Former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas was extradited to the U.S. Tuesday, after spending nearly 10 months detained in Switzerland in connection with the ongoing FIFA bribery and corruption investigation.
According to a press release issued by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, Takkas, 57, was escorted to a New York-bound flight by two U.S. federal officers.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said Takkas lost an appeal against extradition on March 3 and declined to make a final attempt to appeal his case to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.
Takkas appeared in U.S. federal court in Brooklyn late Tuesday, pleading not guilty to charges including racketeering, money laundering, money laundering conspiracy and wire fraud.
He was released on a $1 million bond, including $25,000 in cash and additional securities including three properties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. He is expected to remain on bail in Brooklyn for the next week and then to reside in Miami under house arrest pending his next court date.
The U.K. national was one of seven men arrested in Zurich on May 27, 2015, as part of a U.S. federal criminal probe into FIFA activities. High-ranking members of world football’s governing body have been accused of accepting millions in bribes in exchange for awarding lucrative commercial contracts for various football tournaments to certain sports marketing companies in North and South America.
Takkas, an accountant, formerly served as general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association and was described in the U.S. indictment issued last year as the attache of Caymanian businessman Jeffrey Webb.
Webb has already pleaded guilty to seven counts in the U.S. indictment that include allegations of racketeering, money laundering conspiracy and wire transfer conspiracy. He faces sentencing in June.
It is alleged that Takkas handled some of the bribe payments on Webb’s behalf. In one instance, the FIFA indictment states that a portion of the bribe payments from a company called Media World were ultimately received by Takkas.
The U.S. indictment revealed details of a US$3 million bribe requested by Webb via intermediaries – one of whom was Takkas – in 2012. That alleged bribe was partly paid by U.S. sports marketing company, Traffic USA, the indictment alleges.
However, Traffic USA paid only half of the bribe money, the indictment states. The other company involved, Media World, also joined in the scheme to obtain the marketing rights to certain 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches – rights that were previously held by Caribbean Football Union member associations.
The second portion of the bribe payment, which was promised in 2012 when a US$23 million contract for the commercial rights was signed, had still not been paid as of April 2014, the indictment alleges.
It is alleged that Roger Huguet – the CEO of Media World – and Takkas met in South Florida to arrange the payment for Webb. Eventually, some cash was transmitted to Takkas, U.S. authorities said.
For instance, in December 2014, it is alleged that US$170,000 was wired from Panama to a Deutsche Bank Trust Company account in New York City and then forwarded to an account held by Takkas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The payments stopped in early 2015, the indictment states, when Huguet was informed about the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation and advised that Media World “should not make additional payments toward the US$1.5 million bribe it owed to Jeffrey Webb.”