FIFA corruption: Jeffrey Webb pleads not guilty in US

Sports Page — Former FIFA Vice-President Jeffrey Webb has pleaded not guilty in connection with a massive corruption scandal in the world football governing body.

He was placed under house arrest on $10m (£6.4m) bail by a New York judge.

Mr Webb, from the Cayman Islands, is accused of accepting bribes worth millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights.

He was detained in Switzerland in May, along with six football officials, and was this week extradited to the US.

He was the only one not to contest his extradition from Switzerland and the first to appear in an American court.

He must remain at home within a 20-mile (32km) radius of the court, his movements will be monitored via an electronic tag and he has already relinquished his three passports, two of which are UK passports.

His lawyer has declined to comment.

Appearing in court wearing a dark blue business suit, a crisp white shirt and a silk tie, Mr Webb smiled at his wife, Kendra, as he walked in, accompanied by US marshals.

A giant of a man often referred to as “Mr President” in the Cayman Islands, he projected a confident air as he stood before the judge, flanked by his defence team and the US prosecutors who have mounted the case against him, and secured his extradition from Switzerland.

Mr Webb entered a plea of not guilty to charges of money-laundering, wire fraud and racketeering.

But most of the arraignment hearing at the Brooklyn courthouse was taken up with the details of his bail arrangements.

Ironically, as he was listening to the charges he faces, there was a football match being played on the grass outside the courthouse, our correspondent says.

Mr Webb, 50, has been provisionally banned as Fifa vice-president. He is also the former president of the Central and North American football federation (Concacaf).

The other six people arrested are fighting their extradition to the US, where the charges were laid.

The key allegations

  • Wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud
  • Money-laundering conspiracy and money-laundering
  • Obstruction of justice
  • If convicted, the defendants could face 20 years in prison

The men were held at the request of the US Department of Justice, which has indicted a total of 14 current and former Fifa officials and associates on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption following a major inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The investigation was initially sparked by the bidding process for the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups, but was widened to look back at the dealings of world football’s governing body over the past 20 years.

The Department of Justice’s indictment says that the corruption was planned in the US, and that American banks were used to transfer money.

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