Argentine sought by US in FIFA scandal surrenders in Italy
According to US prosecutors, businessman Alejandro Burzaco, one of three Argentines wanted in the FIFA investigation, paid bribes to win and keep media contracts. He voluntarily surrendered in Burzaco, Italy.
Rome/Buenos Aires — Businessman Alejandro Burzaco, one of three Argentines wanted by U.S. authorities over the FIFA bribery investigation, surrendered voluntarily to police in northern Italy on Tuesday.
U.S. prosecutors say Burzaco, 50, along with Argentines Hugo Jinkis, 70, and his son Mariano Jinkis, 40, conspired to win and keep lucrative media rights contracts from regional football federations by paying bribes. The whereabouts of the father and son are unknown.
Police in the city of Bolzano said they arrested Burzaco after he turned himself in at the police station accompanied by his lawyers.
The arrest adds to the list of suspects implicated in the corruption scandal that erupted last month when police descended on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested seven FIFA officials, pending extradition to the United States.
Burzaco is also being investigated by Argentina's tax authority, AFIP, which suspects him of tax evasion. That means extradition from Italy, which is often slow and complicated, could be sought by both the United Statesand Argentina.
Burzaco gave no explanation as to why he was in Bolzano. Local media said he had rented a house outside the city and planned to request that he be given house arrest.
Burzaco was president of Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias (Torneos), when the United States issued its indictment. Hugo and Mariano Jinkis are controlling principals of Full Play, another sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina.
The Argentine judge who ordered the three men's arrest on May 28 said at the time that he did not know if they were in the country.
Burzaco went to ground after the FIFA arrests in Zurich. Argentine media widely published a tweet sent from his Twitter handle five days before the hotel raid in which he wrote that he was in London on his way to Zurich.
Burzaco's Twitter feed was hastily removed after the United States disclosed its graft charges.
In a company statement on June 3, Torneos said that board members had met and decided to "take all legal steps required to remove Mr Alejandro Burzaco from his position as General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Directors."
The company also said it was coordinating an internal investigation with the support of external U.S. and Argentine counsel and had authorized steps to preserve all of Torneos's records and assist with the ongoing investigations. (Reporting by Antonella Cinelli and Gavin Jones in Rome and Hugh Bronstein and Luis Ampuero in Buenos Aires; Editing by Larry King)