The former president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT) and former FIFA official was arrested in Zurich along with six other FIFA officials on 27 May 2015, on the basis of an arrest request from the US. He was then held in custody pending extradition. The formal US extradition request which was submitted on 1 July 2015 is based on an arrest warrant issued on 20 May 2015 by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. Rocha is accused of demanding and taking bribes of USD 150,000 for himself and another soccer official in connection with the sale of marketing rights to FENIFUT's World Cup 2018 qualifyers to a US sports marketing company.
In its extradition ruling, the FOJ concluded that all of the conditions for extradition are fulfilled. Specifically, the facts laid down in the US extradition request are also punishable under Swiss law (the principle of dual criminality). According to the request, by accepting bribes for the award of sports marketing contracts, Rocha massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the World Cup qualifying matches. Other sports marketing companies were placed at a disadvantage, and the football federation concerned was prevented from negotiating more favourable marketing agreements. In Switzerland, such conduct would be deemed unfair practices under the Federal Act on Unfair Competition. Rocha is alleged to have committed the offences of which he is accused in the USA and Nicaragua.
US extradition request given priority
On 10 August 2015, Nicaragua also submitted a request to Switzerland to extradite Julio Rocha. The offences it described were largely identical to those listed in the US request. Rocha agreed to his extradition to Nicaragua, which the FOJ then approved on 14 August 2015 under the simplified procedure – albeit subject to the resolution of priority between the Nicaraguan and the equally valid US request. The FOJ has now decided that Rocha will be extradited first to the USA, while simultaneously approving his subsequent extradition to Nicaragua. The key point in this decision is the fact that the US authorities have been conducting wide-ranging criminal proceedings against a number of individuals for some time now. These individuals are already in the USA, or are to be extradited to the USA. Most of the evidence and witnesses are also located in the USA. By contrast, the Nicaraguan authorities only commenced criminal proceedings in response to charges brought on 10 June 2015. These charges are made against a single individual and thus, unlike the US proceedings, do not permit an overall evaluation of the facts at hand.
The FOJ's extradition ruling is not yet legally enforceable. Julio Rocha has 30 days in which to lodge an appeal with the Federal Criminal Court, and five days in which to notify the FOJ of his intent to do so. The decision of the Federal Criminal Court may be taken before the Federal Supreme Court only under certain circumstances – specifically if there are indications of severe deficiencies in the foreign criminal proceedings.
Last modification 15.10.2015