Fifa scandal hits new low amid claims Haiti funds embezzled

The full extent of Fifa’s corruption scandal was laid bare by fresh indictments on Thursday after US justice authorities revealed huge sums destined for disaster relief and development projects were embezzled by senior officials.
Fifa scandal hits new low amid claims Haiti funds embezzled

The new indictments followed the dawn arrests of two Fifa vice-presidents, Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, in Zurich and fresh corruption charges against a total of 16 officials for sums totalling $200 million (€182m) mostly relating to TV and marketing deals in north, south and central America and the Caribbean.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch announced the new indictments including those against three former executive committee members — Ricardo Teixeira, the disgraced Brazilian who quit Fifa’s executive committee in 2012 after it was revealed he had received millions of dollars in bribes from Fifa’s former marketing company ISL, his successor Marco Polo Del Nero, and Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero. It brings to 10 the number of current or former ExCo members facing charges.

The most shocking detail in the new indictment is the new revelation involving officials who were indicted following arrests last May. It discloses that disgraced former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner and his successor Jeffrey Webb — who has pleaded guilty to seven charges — had no compunction about embezzling development and relief money destined for the very poorest countries in their confederation.

The indictment states: “The conspirators’ corruption of the enterprise extended beyond the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks. Fifa’s provision of money — which totalled in the hundreds of millions of dollars — to its member associations in connection with the Goal Program, Financial Assistance Program (FAP), and other programs created opportunities for officials to embezzle or otherwise fraudulently appropriate funding intended to benefit Fifa’s member associations and their constituent organisations, including youth leagues.

“Certain of the defendants and their co-conspirators, including the defendant Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb, took advantage of these opportunities and embezzled or otherwise personally appropriated funds provided by Fifa, including funds intended for natural disaster relief.”

It is the first official confirmation of allegations Warner diverted $750,000 in emergency funds donated by Fifa and the Korean FA intended for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Warner is currently fighting extradition from Trinidad to the USA.

Webb, a banker from the Cayman Islands, has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. As part of his plea, Webb agreed to forfeit more than $6.7m.

Lynch told a news conference in Washington DC: “The betrayal of trust is truly outrageous.”

The announcement of the indictments followed a raid on the luxury Baur Au Lac hotel in Zurich used by Fifa officials, which was swooped upon for the second time this year. It takes to 27 the number of defendants charged by the US with a further 24 unnamed “co-conspirators”.

Napout and Hawitt are opposing their extradition to the US.

At a news conference in Zurich, acting Fifa president Issa Hayatou insisted neither he nor the organisation is corrupt. Hayatou said: ‘’Fifa is not corrupt. We have individuals that have shown negative behaviour. Do not generalise the situation. There are lots of people in Fifa for more than 20 or 30 years that have not been accused of anything.’’

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