Argentine media executive wanted in FIFA case surrenders

Courtesy: Interpol

Rome, June 10 (IANS) Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine media executive who was indicted by US prosecutors in connection with an alleged bribery scheme involving former and current FIFA officials, surrendered to the Italian police on Tuesday. He was wanted by authorities for the past two weeks.

Burzaco, the former chairman and chief executive of Argentine media company Torneos SA, turned himself in to police in Bolzano in northern Italy early on Tuesday, the police said, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to a Bolzano police official and the Italian interior ministry, after he surrendered, Burzaco said he intended to give information on the FIFA scandal.

A spokesperson for the Italian police said Burzaco was accompanied by three lawyers, one Milan-based attorney and two Spanish-speaking attorneys. The lawyers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

At the request of the US government, Interpol issued a so-called red notice last week alerting authorities that there was a US arrest warrant for Burzaco, along with two other Argentine executives and one Brazilian media executive, who are still being sought by law enforcement.

The US indictment charged 50-year-old Burzaco, with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

Burzaco, who Interpol says has Argentine and Italian citizenship, allegedly played a key role in a suspected $110 million bribery scheme involving top soccer officials to secure broadcasting rights of regional tournaments for his firm, US prosecutors said.

When Burzaco turned himself in, Italian police detained him, but didn’t immediately place him under arrest.

Later in the day, an Italian judge ordered his arrest, said a spokesperson for the Italian interior ministry.

That judge ruled in favour of a request by Burzaco’s lawyers to place him under house arrest in a home he rented in the Bolzano area shortly before turning himself in to police on Tuesday morning, said the spokesperson. Burzaco would be moved to that home Tuesday evening.

The US now has to submit an extradition request to the Italians, and an Italian court will decide whether to grant it or not. However, Burzaco told the Italian authorities on Tuesday that he won’t oppose extradition to the US, said the interior ministry spokesperson.