Webb freed on $10 million bail


Former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb was released from custody Saturday on US$10 million bail after pleading not guilty to a 15-count U.S. federal court indictment against him alleging that he engaged in an international racketeering and bribery scheme with more than a dozen other defendants. 

Caymanian Webb appeared in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York for an arraignment proceeding. Attending the court were his wife, Kendra Gamble-Webb, and other family members. 

Webb’s attorney and the court agreed to a bail arrangement that would allow Webb, 50, to be released on the US$10 million bond, to be secured through 10 real estate properties owned by him, his wife and relatives; three cars; and watches and jewelry. 

The court agreed that Webb would be supervised by FBI-approved guards and would be electronically monitored at a location within 20 miles of the eastern district courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, the New York Times reported. Webb was also required to surrender his passport. 

His next court date was set for Aug. 17. 

So far, Webb is the only one of seven defendants arrested on May 27 in Zurich, Switzerland to have been extradited to the U.S. in connection with the case. The other six, including former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas, are still in detention in Switzerland awaiting court proceedings. 

The U.S. investigation has so far targeted nine current or former FIFA officials and five business executives of sports marketing companies which authorities allege paid bribes to the FIFA bosses in exchange for the award of lucrative commercial contracts for various football tournaments, including the World Cup. 

Aside from Webb, only one other defendant in the criminal investigation, Traffic USA chief executive Aaron Davidson, is in federal custody. Davidson has already appeared before the court and was granted bail. 

Court records released Friday indicated that Davidson might be in talks for a deal with U.S. prosecutors. 

“Since Davidson’s arrest, the parties have been actively engaged in plea negotiations,” the records stated. Davidson has also pleaded not guilty to nine counts against him in the indictment. 

Davidson’s case, and potential decision to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors, is significant to Webb because it is alleged that Traffic USA paid at least US$1.5 million in bribes to the Cayman Islands man through intermediaries. 

Federal court records allege that during mid-2012, Webb and a man named as “co-conspirator #4” who was employed by the Traffic Group at the time participated in discussions to negotiate the media and marketing rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifier matches. These rights were being sought by Traffic USA, which wanted to buy the rights from the Caribbean Football Association, federal court records state. 

Near the end of these talks, co-conspirator #4 met with Costas Takkas, a close Webb associate. “Takkas told co-conspirator #4 that Webb wanted a US$3 million bribe in exchange for the [football union] contract to be awarded to Traffic USA,” court records state. 

It was alleged that the US$3 million bribe was split between Traffic USA and a firm identified as “Sports Marketing Company C” so that each would pay US$1.5 million to Webb. 

Court records allege that some of the cash paid by the Traffic USA bribe money went to build a swimming pool at Webb’s residence in Loganville, Georgia.

For the Cayman Compass’s full FIFA coverage, visit the Compass Data Desk.

Defense attorney Edward O’Callaghan and Kendra Gamble-Webb leave the courthouse following the arraignment of former FIFA official Jeffrey Webb in Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, on racketeering and bribery charges on Saturday. – PHOTO: AP