• Venezuelan under US house arrest on $7-M bond

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    NEW YORK: A New York judge placed Venezuela’s former football federation president under house arrest on a $7 million bond on Thursday (Friday in Manila) after he pleaded not guilty in the FIFA corruption scandal.

    Rafael Esquivel, who is also former vice president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), denied corruption charges in a federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, one day after being extradited from Switzerland.

    Esquivel, 69, was arrested in Zurich last May as part of a US-led investigation into massive graft at FIFA, football’s scandal-plagued world governing body.

    He is accused of taking bribes worth several million dollars for the awarding of sports marketing contracts in connection with the Copa America and risks up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

    Judge Raymond Dearie and US prosecutors accepted a $7 million bond for his release, including $2 million in cash and property guarantees outlined by defense lawyer David Goldstein.

    The conditions of release require Esquivel to surrender his passports and be subject to electronic monitoring and round-the-clock surveillance.

    He will confine himself to house arrest in Florida, his lawyer told AFP. He was ordered to reappear in court in New York on April 13 for a pre-trial hearing.

    Thirteen individuals have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with US prosecutors in the FIFA case in exchange for a possible reduction in sentence. Another 27 are currently awaiting trial.

    AFP

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