US, Swiss justice chiefs update on FIFA probes

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Shukriya Pakistan

The US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her Swiss counterpart Michael Lauber, both targeting FIFA in corruption probes, were to provide a joint update Monday on the investigations that have shaken the football world.

FIFA has been engulfed in scandal since May, when seven of its executives were arrested in Zurich by Swiss police, who were acting on US indictments.

Lynch, who launched the probe while still serving as a prosecutor in New York, said she has uncovered decades of bribery and money laundering in world football, amounting to more than $150 million dollars.

She wants all those arrested in Zurich to face justice in the United States.

Only one suspect, former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, agreed to extradition and has been sent to the United States, while the other six are contesting a transfer to American courts.

The Swiss justice ministry has said it will rule on the remaining extradition requests in the coming weeks.

US investigators have so far indicted 14 people, including five sports marketing executives in a probe that ultimately led FIFA’s long-serving president Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation.

The 79-year-old Blatter, who has fiercely denied any wrongdoing, will be replaced at a special election in February.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has launched a separate probe into alleged financial misconduct at FIFA, specifically targeting the bidding process that led to Russia and Qatar being awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.

Lauber’s office is looking at 81 suspicious transactions that passed through Swiss banks, aiming to see if any bribes were paid during bidding.

Lauber will be pressed to provide an update on his probe when he faces the media later Monday, with some questioning  whether Russia and Qatar could be stripped of the World Cup hosting rights if there is conclusive evidence that bribes were paid.

Lynch and Lauber will address a joint press conference after attending a international conference of prosecutors in Zurich.

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