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Swiss return frozen CHF36 million to South American football federation

Former CONMEBOL presidents Juan Angel Napout (left) and Nicolas Leoz in December 2014. Napout was arrested in 2015 in a pre-dawn raid at a Swiss luxury hotel as part of the US Department of Justice’s widening bribery case into FIFA. In May 2014, Leoz was indicted along with 14 other football officials by the US Department of State on charges of bribery, racketeering and money laundering. Swiss criminal proceedings against Leoz were abandoned after his death in August 2019. Keystone

Swiss authorities have returned about CHF36.6 million ($40 million) in funds frozen in Swiss bank accounts amid football corruption investigations into the South American football confederation CONMEBOL.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had opened several criminal proceedings in connection with South American football officials, including former confederation president Nicolas Leoz and former secretary general Eduardo Deluca. Both were alleged to have abused their positions to unlawfully enrich themselves and perhaps others, the OAG said on Wednesday.

“The funds forfeited between December 2019 and September 2020 amounted to around CHF36.6 million and were unlawfully acquired to the prejudice of CONMEBOL,” the OAG said in a statement. In September 2020 alone the restitution of over CHF20.5 million in unlawfully acquired funds was ordered.

“As the party suffering harm within the respective criminal proceedings is doubtlessly known – the CONMEBOL – the forfeited funds will be returned directly to it.”

Swiss criminal proceedings against Leoz were abandoned after his death in August 2019, while Deluca was convicted by summary penalty order of complicity in multiple instances of aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Last month the OAG abandoned criminal proceedings against Deluca as well because Argentina was conducting an investigation into the same matter, the OAG said.

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