US court postpones Webb sentencing for fifth time

By Paul Nicholson

June 23 – The sentencing in the US of Jeffrey Webb, the former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president arrested in Zurich in hotel raids in May 2015 has been postponed for the fifth time by a Brooklyn federal court judge. The new date is now set for 24 January 2018.

Webb was extradited to the US following his Swiss arrest and pleaded guilty in November 2015 to seven counts of criminal conduct – racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy.

A Cayman Islands national, Webb is currently on bail in the US with travel restrictions limited to the area around his home. Webb’s lawyers told that the court that he is selling his home in Atlanta, Georgia, and that the money from the sale will be handed over to the US court as part of an asset forfeiture agreement.

Touted as a potential future FIFA president, Webb was the most high profile figure in the arrests that rocked FIFA and the football world in north and south America in particular. More than 40 football executives from the region have been arrested and more than $250 million collected by the US Department of Justice.

While almost all those indicted have now pleaded guilty, none have been sentenced and the US Justice Department is still keen to get a number of the bigger fish who have escaped their grasp – most notably Trinidad’s former CONCACAF president Jack Warner – in what they maintain is a mafia-style organisation and a global conspiracy to defraud football for the personal gain of its administrative officials.

Current investigatory focus seems to have returned to Brazil and former Brazilian FA (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira who has fought extradition to the US. He is believed to be in talks with US justice officals. Teixeira had a number of high level business links to Europe and former FIFA executives and it is believed this is opening up a new area of investigation on that continent, particularly surrounding his dealings with former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, who is himself the subject of a criminal investigation in Spain.

Webb is accused of soliciting bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for broadcast and commercial rights contracts to major tournaments. US banks were used to make those alleged bribe payments.

The postponement of Webb’s sentencing was at the request of his own lawyers. Postponements generally suggest that the accused has more information to trade, though it is hard to see what else Webb might have left to give up. The longer Webb waits for sentencing then generally the better it is likely to be for him personally. However, he could face 20 years jail time for the racketeering charge alone.

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