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US asks Switzerland to extradite several FIFA officials

[JURIST] Swiss authorities on Thursday said that the United States has asked Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA [official website] officials who were arrested on corruption charges in late May. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) [official website] announced that formal extradition requests by the US were submitted on Wednesday. Top FIFA executives, including the seven who were arrested in Zurich, have been under investigation for a number of years by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website]. Zurich police will give the seven arrested officials a hearing over the US's extradition inquiries and their lawyers will have 14 days to reply [BBC report] to the request, which can be extended depending on the legitimacy of the request. After the response has been made the FOJ would wait a few weeks before giving its decision, and any ruling can be challenged in both the federal criminal court and the federal supreme court. FIFA vice-president and head of North and Central America, Jeffrey Webb [The Independent backgrounder], was one of the men arrested in a raid on a luxury hotel in late May by Swiss police. The seven men of interest to the US are among 14 defendants the US has sought charges against for wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

The FIFA scandal shocked the sports world when news broke in May that prosecutors charged [JURIST report] 14 top FIFA officials with offenses that include racketeering, bribery and alleging that the officials used partnerships with sports marketing executives to solicit more than $150 million kickbacks to support various sites of FIFA World Cup events. Last June Interpol [official website] issued "wanted person alerts" [JURIST report] for six men with ties to the ongoing FIFA scandal on charges which include racketeering, money laundering and corruption. FBI Director James Comey mentioned that [USA Today report] "undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA." A major problem [Wired report] that exists within the organization is that each of the 209 member nations gets a single vote and each country receives an equal share of FIFA's revenues, thus providing less incentive for the poorer, smaller countries to try to change any structure of the voting process.

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