A Brazilian businessman accused of involvement in bribery allegations surrounding Fifa has returned to Brazil and is fighting extradition to the US.
José Margulies, one of 14 men accused by US prosecutors in an investigation into alleged corruption at the world soccer’s organizing body, recently returned from overseas, his lawyer Jair Jaloreto said.
“As a Brazilian citizen, he cannot be extradited under the federal constitution,” said Mr Jaloreto of his client.
The broadcast industry operator is one of several of Brazilian businessman who are at the centre of the Fifa scandal, amid allegations they bought television rights for some of the association’s major tournaments with kickbacks, writes Joe Leahy in São Paulo.
The scandal has thrown Fifa into crisis, with president Sepp Blatter agreeing to resign early this month despite being re-elected for a fifth term only four days before.
Mr Jaloreto declined to say what Mr Margulies’ position was on the allegations against him, in which prosecutors charge that he conspired with the other defendants to arrange “illegal payments, bribes, and kickbacks”.
Reuters reported that Mr Margulies was born in Argentina and naturalized as a Brazilian citizen in 1973. Brazil’s constitution does not allow the extradition of naturalized citizens unless it is for drug-trafficking charges or crimes prior to their naturalization.
Reuters said he had returned from Germany a week ago. Mr Jaloreto declined to comment on where he had been.
Mr Margulies is top of the FBI’s most wanted list for “criminal enterprise investigations”.
“From approximately 1991 to 2015, in New York and elsewhere, José Margulies and others allegedly participated in a criminal enterprise that engaged in racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies,” the FBI notice on the bureau’s website reads.
It said he “might travel” on four passports, including two Brazilian documents and a Polish and an Argentine passport.