Former FIFA official Webb pleads not guilty

NEW YORK, July 19

Jeffrey Webb, one of seven high-ranking officials of soccer’s world governing body FIFA who were arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges, pleaded not guilty in US federal court on Saturday.

Extradited to the United States, the former FIFA vice-president and president of the CONCACAF regional soccer federation appeared at a hearing in Brooklyn, New York. A US lawyer for him declined to comment. Webb faces US charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. He was released on a $10 million bond co-signed by family members. The four co-signers present in court, his wife and her parents and grandmother, were advised by the judge of the gravity of their financial undertaking.

The bond was secured by 10 properties, three cars, a case of jewelry and watches belonging to Webb and his wife and financial assets, including his 401k retirement account. Webb is among nine soccer officials and five executives charged by the US Justice Department for allegedly exploiting the sport for their own gain through bribes of more than $150 million over 24 years.

Under the terms of his release, Webb surrendered his three passports and his wife surrendered her passport. He will be under house detention and must remain within 20 miles (32 km) of the courthouse. His movements will be monitored electronically and he will be required to seek written permission from the FBI to go anywhere. Webb was arrested in Zurich on May 27, two days before FIFA’s annual congress, as authorities unveiled a case that roiled the soccer world.

US authorities say their investigation, paralleling a separate Swiss inquiry, has exposed complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials. Webb has been provisionally banned from his posts at FIFA and CONCACAF. No date has been set for his trial.