Swiss approve extradition of Costas Takkas

Swiss authorities have approved the extradition of Costas Takkas, Jeffrey Webb’s assistant at FIFA and former general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association, to face trial in the U.S. on bribery charges. 

British-born businessman Takkas, who was arrested alongside Webb in Zurich in May, has 30 days to appeal the decision of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice. 

Takkas served as an attaché to Webb in his role as president of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and vice president of world governing body FIFA. 

Webb was extradited earlier this year and has entered not guilty pleas to multiple charges in connection with an alleged bribery and kickback scheme dubbed the “World Cup of fraud.” 

Webb is personally accused of accepting bribes for steering lucrative contracts to certain sports marketing companies. 

Takkas’s alleged role in the scam, outlined in a 161-page indictment, is said to include acting as a middleman for Webb, negotiating bribes on his behalf and using his accounts in the Cayman Islands to funnel illegal payments to his boss. 

“By accepting bribes for the award of sports marketing contracts, Takkas massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the World Cup qualifying matches. Other sports marketing companies were placed at a disadvantage, and the affected football federations were prevented from negotiating more favourable marketing agreements,” the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement issued on Friday. 

Takkas lived in Cayman for nearly 20 years from the mid-1980s after coming to the island to work as an auditor and was involved in the local football scene, rising to the role of general secretary under Webb. When Webb was elected president of CONCACAF and vice president of FIFA, he took Takkas with him as his assistant or “attaché.” 

Takkas has been in custody in Switzerland since his May 27 arrest. He and six other FIFA officials, including Webb, were arrested at a hotel in Zurich. 

Swiss authorities said in the statement that the requirements for extradition, specifically that the alleged offenses are also punishable under Swiss law, had been met. 

Along with Webb, Rafael Esquivel,the former president of the Venezuela Football Association and co-defendant Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo have also been ordered extradited to the U.S. from Switzerland. 

A status conference in the case originally scheduled for Friday in the U.S. federal court in Brooklyn, New York, has been postponed to Nov. 18. 

The fallout from the separate investigations by the FBI and Swiss authorities continues to impact world soccer’s governing body. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini were each suspended for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics committee in the wake of a Swiss criminal case investigating financial misconduct. 

Blatter has lodged an appeal, Associated Press reported on Friday. Platini has also said he will fight the decision. 

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