Prosecutors press for conviction in Fifa graft trial

NEW YORK • US prosecutors urged a New York jury to convict three wealthy South American former football officials "on all counts" in the face of "overwhelming" evidence, after delivering closing arguments on Wednesday at the Fifa corruption trial.

"The three defendants thought the payouts would last forever but they won't," assistant US attorney Kristin Mace told the federal court in Brooklyn, a day after the defendants declined to take the stand in their own defence.

"They got caught. And it's time that they are held accountable. The evidence is overwhelming," Mace added, urging the jury to declare the trio "guilty on all counts".

The defendants are Jose Maria Marin, former head of Brazil's football confederation; former Fifa vice president Juan Angel Napout, who was elected president of Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, in 2014; and Manuel Burga, who led football in Peru until 2014.

They have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

But while the defence admits extensive corruption at Fifa, it insists there is no proof that their clients were paid a combined total of US$21.45 million (S$28.9 million) in bribes, with jurors expected to begin deliberations as early as Thursday (today, Singapore time).

If convicted, they risk up to 20 years behind bars for the most serious offences.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Prosecutors press for conviction in Fifa graft trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe