FBI swoops on cruise ship to nab judge

ORLANDO • Federal agents boarded a Disney cruise ship in Florida on Friday to arrest a Guatemalan judge who is one of many football officials charged by US prosecutors investigating corruption in world governing body Fifa.

A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Hector Trujillo, 62, was arrested by United States Customs and Border Protection agents who went to his cabin door.

Trujillo, one of 41 people and entities charged in a US corruption sweep that has rocked football worldwide, appeared in a federal court in Orlando, Florida.

A magistrate judge ordered him held pending his transfer to Brooklyn, New York, where the cases against officials were first brought, and a possible bond hearing to be held there.

At a news conference in Washington, US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said the corruption allegations against Trujillo presented a contradiction with his position as a judge on Guatemala's top court.

Trujillo, the secretary-general of the Guatemalan football federation, was "purportedly dispensing justice by day while allegedly soliciting bribes and selling his influence within Fifa", according to her.

The indictment charged him with soliciting and accepting two bribe payments from Media World, an affiliate of Spanish media company Imagina Group.

One payment was a "six-figure bribe" to be split among Trujillo and two other Guatemalans for media and marketing rights for 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

The other men, Brayan Jimenez and Rafael Salguero, were also indicted. Jimenez has served as president of Guatemala's football federation and Salguero was a Fifa executive committee member.

Football bosses from across South and Central America, including Trujillo, were among 16 people charged on Thursday by US prosecutors with bribery and kickback schemes amounting to more than US$200 million (S$280 million) for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

The total number of indictments is now 41 in a probe spanning dozens of countries.

Fifa is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis with criminal investigations into the sport under way in the US and Switzerland.

Its president Sepp Blatter and vice-president Michel Platini have been suspended by its ethics committee.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'FBI swoops on cruise ship to nab judge'. Print Edition | Subscribe