San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
FIFA

Eduardo Li agrees to extradition to the United States

After spending more than six months in a Swiss detention center, former Costa Rican football head Eduardo Li has decided to face his judicial fate in the United States. Li, who was arrested in May along with other figures of football’s international governing body FIFA, agreed to be extradited to the U.S. to face a pair of indictments from the U.S. Justice Department that charge him with wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, as well as other acts of bribery.

Last week, Li met with his legal team in Switzerland, according to his Costa Rican attorney Róger Guevara.

“After consulting with his lawyers, Eduardo has decided it’s in his best interest to offer himself up for extradition,” Guevara said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “The principal of innocence covers Eduardo, in the U.S. and in Costa Rica, and he has taken the decision of directly facing the charges in the United States after undergoing the process of extradition.”

In the email to The Tico Times, Guevara said that Li alerted Swiss authorities on Friday that he would accept the extradition order that he had previously appealed. Sometime within the next eight days, Li will be taken to the U.S.

If convicted in U.S. courts for the four counts levied against him, Li could face up to 20 years in prison and be subject to civil forfeiture, meaning he would have to give up any money and acquisitions stemming from the alleged bribes.

Swiss authorities initially decided to extradite Li in September, but he appealed to the government’s justice ministry while in prison. On Dec. 4, the U.S. government released a second indictment against FIFA officials, who prosecutors say have for years taken bribes and kickbacks in a massive, widespread corruption scandal.

Li was mentioned heavily in the recent 240-page indictment by the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York. The newest indictment alleges that Li asked for a $600,000 bribe from sports media company Media World in exchange for the rights to televise Costa Rica’s qualifying matches leading up to the 2022 World Cup. He received $300,000 of the requested bribe, according to prosecutors, through bank accounts located in Miami, Florida and Panama under Warrior Holding, S.A., a company located in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. Li’s friend Orlando Guerrero is listed as treasurer of the company.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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