Swiss police arrest two more FIFA officials in money laundering scandal

ZURICH (Reuters) – Law enforcement officials on Thursday arrested two more FIFA officials suspected of taking millions of dollars in bribes, Swiss authorities said, as part of an ongoing investigation of graft at soccer’s world governing body.

The two unnamed officials were taken into custody on arrest requests submitted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said.

“They are being held in custody pending their extradition,” an FOJ statement said. “According to the U.S. arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.”

The FOJ said it would issue another statement with the names of those arrested later on Thursday. FIFA’s ethics committee has routinely suspended officials swept up in the probe.

“The high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches,” the FOJ said.

“According to the arrest requests, some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via U.S. banks.”

Authorities have said for months they expected to level a second wave of corruption charges in soccer following U.S. charges in May against 14 officials and sports marketing executives with paying and taking bribes.

The New York Times said in the latest action authorities were targeting current and former senior soccer officials on charges that included racketeering, money laundering and fraud. The new charges were expected to hit South and Central American soccer leaders particularly hard, the paper said.

The Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, the scene of dawn raids in May on the back of U.S. indictments, closed its gates after a group of four people, believed to be plainclothes police, went in shortly before 6 a.m. (0500 GMT), a Reuters witness said.

Another group of police then went in through the rear entrance and left half an hour later. Shortly afterwards, two cars with tinted windows were seen leaving the hotel. Reporters could not see who was inside.

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