In an unprecedented move against a major sport organizing body, nine members of FIFA and five corporate executives tied to soccer's governing body were indicted in New York early Wednesday on corruption charges, following a three-year FBI investigation.
Swiss police, acting at the behest of U.S. law enforcement, arrested seven FIFA officials at a hotel in Zurich where the organization is holding its annual conference this week.
Swiss authorities, who seized electronic data and documents at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, said they will extradite the seven officials to the U.S. for trial. They also announced they have opened their own investigation into allegations of criminal mismanagement and money laundering regarding the rewarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup sites.
Here is the full statement issued by Swiss authorities following the arrests:
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups. In the course of said proceedings, electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA's head office in Zurich.
Today, on Wednesday 27 May 2015, the OAG has seized data and documents stored in IT systems at the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as part of a so-called "collection of evidence on cooperative basis." That means that the party in possession of the data -- in this case, FIFA -- delivers the requested data to law enforcement authorities, or gives assistance in securing the data, thus facilitating an efficient and swift procedure. The collection of relevant bank documents had already been ordered beforehand at various financial institutes in Switzerland. The files seized today and the collected bank documents will serve criminal proceedings both in Switzerland and abroad.
In the Swiss criminal proceedings, opened by the OAG on 10 March 2015, it is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022. The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland. Furthermore, the head office of the damaged party, FIFA, is in Switzerland. For these reasons, investigations are being carried out on the suspicion of criminal mismanagement. There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts. Subsequently to today's seizure of files, the OAG and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010. These persons should be questioned as persons providing information.
For reasons of criminal procedure (principle of proportionality), the procedure coordinated with the requested acts of the U.S. authorities was designed in such a way as to allow the procurement of any criminally relevant data in an effective manner, and to avoid any possible collusion. These measures were carried out simultaneously as a large number of persons involved in allocating the World Cups were currently in Zurich. These legal actions concern two criminal procedures conducted separately by the OAG and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. The Swiss and US law enforcement authorities are not conducting any joint investigations, but are coordinating their respective criminal proceedings.
On 18 November 2014, FIFA had filed criminal charges against persons unknown with the OAG. Therefore, the Swiss proceeding is aimed at persons unknown, with FIFA as the injured party. With this procedure, the OAG is contributing to the struggle against corrupt behavior and money laundering.