ZURICH (Reuters) - One of seven soccer officials arrested in Zurich last month on suspicion of racketeering following a U.S. extradition request has had a request for bail rejected, with a Swiss court saying on Friday he posed a “risk of flight”.
The officials were detained in a dawn raid on May 27 on a luxury Zurich hotel two days before FIFA’s annual Congress, throwing soccer’s governing body into turmoil. They have since been held in prisons around the Zurich region.
U.S. prosecutors say their investigation exposes complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials.
The Swiss Federal Criminal Court statement described the defendant as a “FIFA official” without naming him.
The seven detained are Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Maria Marin and Costas Takkas.
Webb, president of CONCACAF confederation, and Figueredo were both FIFA executive committee members at the time. They were among 14 people charged in cases involving more than $150 million in bribes over a period of 24 years.
Swiss media widely identified the defendant who had appealed as 83-year-old Figueredo, a former president of the Uruguayan Football Association and South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL). FIFA was not immediately available for comment.
“The arguments put forward in support of his release, such as his advanced age and poor state of health, were not regarded as sufficient to counter the risk of absconding,” the court said about the hearing.
“The court held that there was a risk that the appellant would abscond if released.”
It statement added: “The court took into account that appellant has no close ties to Switzerland and is more than capable of travelling long distances.
“Measures such as money bail, electronic monitoring, etc. would not adequately reduce the risk of flight. The court also held, based on a report from the Zurich prison medical services, that there is no medical reason why the appellant should not remain in detention.”
The detainees were provisionally banned by FIFA’s own ethics committee following the arrests. FIFA has not commented directly on the seven detainees but has said that it is cooperating with the investigation.
Figueredo was arrested two days before his stint on the executive committee was due to end.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Alison Williams