FIFA bans Webb for life, issues US$1 million fine

Following an investigation by world football’s independent ethics committee, Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb was banned Friday from “all football-related activities on a national and international level” for the rest of his life.

The ruling, made by the committee, chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert, comes into force immediately, according to a statement FIFA released Friday. The fine amount was CHF [Swiss franc] $1 million [US$1.03 million].

The ethics committee began investigating former FIFA Vice President Webb, along with 10 other prominent world football officials, after a bevy of arrests were made on May 27, 2015 related to a US$200 million bribery scandal that rocked international football. Among those who were investigated along with Webb were former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad and former Cayman Islands resident and Webb attache Costas Takkas. Warner has already been banned for life from FIFA.

According to a FIFA press release issued Friday, a final report on Webb’s activities was transmitted to the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber in April 2016. Formal proceedings against the Cayman Islands resident were opened in May and the committee’s final decision on the ban was made public Friday.

Webb pleaded guilty in November 2015 to seven counts of criminal conduct in relation to what prosecutors said was a decades-long bribery racket. Webb, 51, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. He faces sentencing on Nov. 18, 2016 in U.S. federal court.

The scheme described by U.S. prosecutors alleged Webb, and others at FIFA, solicited bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for directing lucrative broadcasting and commercial rights deals for various football tournaments – including the World Cup – to the bribe-payers. Dozens of U.S. banks were used to make those alleged bribe payments to Webb and others, prosecutors said. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering charge alone.

FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Webb guilty of violating general rules of conduct, rules of loyalty, rules for disclosure and financial reporting, conflicts of interest and bribery and corruption.