The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted an additional 16 international soccer officials on various corruption charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at a news conference Thursday. The indictments include five current or former members of FIFA's executive board.
Swiss authorities arrested two members of the executive committee, Alfredo Hawit and Juan Ángel Napout, prior to FIFA meetings in Zurich on Thursday. Hawit is the president of CONCACAF, the confederation that oversees soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Napout is the president of CONMEBOL, the South American soccer confederation.
The officials engaged in money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud as part of "a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer," the Justice Department wrote in a release.
"The scale of corruption here is unconscionable," Lynch said.
The 92-count indictment also includes charges against Marco Polo del Nero and Ricardo Teixeira, the current and former presidents of the Brazilian soccer federation, and CONMEBOL's current and former general secretaries, José Luís Meiszner and Eduardo Deluca. The Justice Department also indicted officials who have served in the Guatemalan, Honduran, Panamanian, Paraguayan and Peruvian soccer federations, among others.
The latest charges follow the indictment of 14 people in May on charges related to corruption in international soccer. The Justice Department has also expanded some corruption charges for FIFA officials who were arrested in May, Lynch said. Eight of those officials, including former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, have pleaded guilty to assorted corruption charges, according to the Justice Department.
Hawit ascended to the CONCACAF presidency after Webb was arrested in May and "assumed the mantle" of corruption within the federation, said Lynch, who promised that the investigation would continue.
"The message from this announcement should be clear to every culpable individual who remains in the shadows, hoping to evade our investigation: You will not wait us out. You will not escape our focus," Lynch said.
Swiss officials are seeking to extradite Napout and Hawit to the U.S. to face charges, and the Justice Department will pursue the extradition of other officials as well.
"FIFA is aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice," the organization said in a press release. "FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General."
The U.S. has now indicted 41 people and entities as part of its widespread investigation into corruption in international soccer and has already secured 12 convictions against individuals and two against sports marketing companies.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not among the officials indicted, though he is currently facing ethics charges from the organization itself. FIFA suspended Blatter and two other top officials for 90 days in October.
"I think he is well aware of the nature of our charges," Lynch said. "I think he has spent a great time reading the superseding indictment, which I think speaks for itself."
A full list of the indicted officials is available here.
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