Swiss send last of FIFA suspects to US in bribery case

AP News
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Posted: May 18, 2016 12:01 PM

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Former FIFA staffer Julio Rocha was extradited Wednesday to the United States to face racketeering charges in a sprawling bribery case, authorities said.

Rocha is the last of seven men, including two FIFA vice presidents, who were arrested in Zurich last May to be extradited. Six went to the U.S. and one to Uruguay.

Rocha was flown from Zurich to New York, accompanied by U.S. law enforcement officials, Switzerland's justice ministry said.

Rocha's final appeal against a U.S. extradition request was rejected by Switzerland's supreme court on May 9.

Rocha was the longtime Nicaraguan soccer federation president before leaving in 2012, when FIFA hired him as a Panama-based development officer for Central America.

According to an American indictment, Rocha received a $100,000 bribe from sports marketing company Traffic linked to the sale of marketing rights for Nicaragua's qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

The indictment alleged $150,000 was wired in May 2011 from a bank in Miami to an account in Rocha's name at BankInter in Madrid, Spain. He kept $100,000 and gave $50,000 to another sports official who was not identified.

The bribery deal was agreed with then-Traffic executive Enrique Sanz, who later was hired as general secretary to the North American regional soccer body.

American authorities previously blocked Nicaragua's attempt to extradite Rocha, and their request was upheld by the Swiss government.

Rocha is among more than 40 soccer and marketing officials, and marketing agencies, who have been indicted or gave guilty pleas in the U.S. federal investigation which was unsealed last May and sent FIFA into turmoil.