When the United States wants to charge alleged offenders located in other countries, it must show that there is legal authority to prosecute them in this country. The general rule is that there must be a link between the alleged criminal actions and the United States. In the case of officials of FIFA, the governing body for worldwide soccer, the government alleged that the felony charges leveled in May were justified due to the use of American banks in the scheme. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York charged those defendants with taking millions in bribes, kickbacks and the commission of other criminally fraudulent acts.
That rationale for jurisdiction in this country has been approved in precedential legal cases issued by the courts. That same precedent will be argued regarding the recent Dec. 3 arrest of 16 FIFA officials by the U.S. Department of Justice. With the help of foreign authorities, United States officials arrested numerous FIFA executives at the same foreign venue where the rounds of initial arrests were made in May.
Swiss police carried out the raid at the exclusive Baur au Lac hotel, and arrested soccer officials for racketeering, money laundering and criminal fraud. South and Central American soccer officials were reportedly hard-hit by the raid, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. The prosecution and the investigation is being coordinated by the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, along with the New York offices of the FBI and the IRS.
At last report, the two officials from South and Central America were contesting extradition to the United States. This led to a demand made to this country for submission of a formal extradition request within the next 40 days. The allegations involve major felony charges and subject the defendants to hefty sentences behind bars. Although there has been controversy over whether the United States is the proper venue for the prosecutions, the U.S. Attorney General indicated that the country’s banks would not be used for schemes involving massive corruption, and that these activities would be stopped.
Source: The New York Times, “FIFA Corruption: Top Officials Arrested in Pre-Dawn Raid at Zurich Hotel“, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Matt Apuzzo, and Sam Borden, Dec. 3, 2015