Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Loretta Lynch and the FIFA Prosecution


Loretta Lynch was confirmed as the new Attorney General this spring.

She is being praised this week for orchestrating the arrests of top officials at FIFA for conspiracy and bribery. Most of the arrested officials are Latin American, and President Sepp Blatter (who the guys on Hang Up and Listen have been criticizing and mocking for years) is noticeably not charged.

Prior to becoming the Attorney General, Lynch was the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. My understanding is that she began the investigation into FIFA corruption while serving in that role.

Today in Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains (here) that the media has been incorrectly portraying these arrests as a "takedown" of FIFA (the organization). In reality, says Stern, the Justice Department is trying to protect FIFA from the leaders who are guiding it improperly (and looting its funds):
Counterintuitive as it may seem, though, the Justice Department hasn’t alleged that FIFA is a criminal enterprise [under the RICO statutes].  
Rather, it has alleged that FIFA is the victim of a criminal enterprise—the group of corrupt officials who secured bribes and kickbacks through years of fraud and racketeering. Altogether these officials allegedly illegally solicited well over $150 million in exchange for exclusive media and marketing rights of international soccer tournaments ... 
America is not attempting to topple a bloated, unprincipled organization. Rather, it is attempting to protect that horrible organization from its even more unscrupulous officials. These men owed a duty to FIFA to carry out their jobs honorably and conduct their business legally. Instead, they allegedly conspired to bribe their way to millions in personal wealth. The money they’re accused of pocketing should have gone to FIFA. Instead, prosecutors say, it went into their bank accounts.
Stern's article is great: easy-to-comprehend and framing the entire story in its big picture legal context. This is the kind of writing that I want to aim for personally.

596. What is the likelihood that the 2022 World Cup will be moved from Qatar? I feel like there's at least a fifty percent chance, and I think that the dramatic stories of corruption have increased the chance significantly.

597. Will any of the FIFA officials plead guilty? Have they already been extradited to the United States, or are they still in Switzerland? I anticipate that the jurisdictional questions about charging foreigners in the United States will be quite complex. How solid is Lynch's claim of US jurisdiction?

Sepp Blatter

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