Cayman Islands native and former FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb agreed Thursday to be extradited to the United States, according to reports from a number of international news agencies.
He is expected in federal court in New York within several days, according to a Bloomberg News source.
Webb, 50, was one of seven current or former FIFA officials arrested on May 27 in Zurich, Switzerland, in connection with a far-reaching U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service probe. The investigation alleges that top-ranking members of world football’s governing body accepted bribes in exchange for granting the commercial rights for certain football tournaments to selected sports marketing companies.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice did not identify the official involved in the extradition, stating Friday that he “wished not to be named at the moment.”
Cayman Islands government officials contacted Saturday indicated that they had received no updates on Webb’s status but likely would receive information in due course.
Bloomberg News was first to report Friday that a “person familiar with the matter” identified the FIFA official being sent to the U.S. as Webb.
The official, who initially had contested his extradition, agreed to be extradited on Thursday afternoon, Swiss authorities said. The Swiss justice office said it approved his extradition immediately, but that in keeping with its usual practice, it would not give details of when he would be handed over. Under Swiss law, he must be collected by a U.S. police escort and taken to the United States within 10 days.
The seven men arrested in a raid on a luxury hotel on May 27 in Zurich, where FIFA has its headquarters, included current and former members of FIFA’s executive committee. The United States submitted a formal request for their extradition on July 1.
Webb was arrested along with Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Li, Jose Maria Marin, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas and Rafael Esquivel. Takkas, a U.K. national, lived in the Cayman Islands for two decades between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s.
The U.S. investigation alleges bribery and racketeering worth more than $150 million involving high-ranking FIFA officials over a 24-year span.
The official who has agreed to be extradited is accused of accepting bribes totaling millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to various sports marketing firms and keeping the money for himself, the Swiss justice office said. Those rights were related to the broadcast of World Cup qualifiers, regional tournaments and continental championships in North and South America.
Cayman probe takes back seat
Both the U.S. and the Cayman Islands said they would seek the extradition of Webb to face charges in their respective jurisdictions related to separate criminal investigations.
However, local government officials confirmed Saturday that no extradition requests had been made to Switzerland on behalf of the Cayman Islands.
Webb is facing a 15-count federal indictment in the U.S., which carries a prison sentence of 20-plus years upon conviction.
In Cayman, Webb has been charged with four counts on three separate charges related to what prosecutors allege was the corrupt awarding of two public hospital contracts.
The United States filed its extradition request prior to criminal charges being laid against Webb in the Cayman Islands.
Webb, who is from Cayman, is married to an American citizen and owns several properties in the U.S. state of Georgia.
If the six other FIFA officials being held in Switzerland in connection with the U.S. criminal probe decide to fight extradition, the process could take months or even a year or more before they are sent back to face charges.
Warner in court
Extradition proceedings for another indicted FIFA defendant, Trinidadian politician Jack Warner, seem likely to take quite a while longer.
Warner, a former FIFA vice president, won more time following an appearance in court in his home country Thursday. The court date was adjourned until July 27, with Warner’s attorneys stating the U.S. has yet to send a formal extradition request to Trinidad.
Warner has said he will fight extradition and has predicted a lengthy legal battle to extradite him to the U.S. He is accused of taking payments totaling $10 million sent by a high-ranking FIFA official to give South Africa the right to host the 2010 World Cup. Warner left FIFA in 2011 after being implicated in an earlier bribery scandal. He has denied wrongdoing.