BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine businessmen Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, who are wanted by U.S. prosecutors as part of the FIFA graft investigation, on Wednesday were denied their request to fight extradition as free men and were placed under house arrest, legal documents showed.
Hugo Jinkis, 70, and his son Mariano, 40, were among 14 current and former FIFA officials and corporate executives indicted in the United States last month on charges of racketeering and corruption that rocked the soccer world.
U.S. justice officials say the two conspired with a third Argentine, media tycoon Alejandro Burzaco, to win and keep hold of lucrative media rights for regional soccer tournaments by paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes.
In a ruling published by the Argentine judiciary’s news service, federal judge Claudio Bonadio said defense lawyers had requested the Jinkises be released from detention in order to meet regularly with their legal team in private. The request also cited the pair’s commercial interests and health factors.
The Jinkises surrendered to the Argentine police on June 18, three weeks after U.S. justice officials unveiled their explosive case. Bonadio rejected their release saying they presented a flight risk given their personal wealth, adding that until last week they had both been fugitives.
This suggested that “while the extradition request is processed, they could seek to avoid the action of the law courts”, Bonadio said.
Calls to the Jinkises’ lawyer went unanswered.
Local media have reported that both men were previously being held in a police detention center.
Bonadio said his ruling would have no impact on how the extradition request is handled, and he set a bail of 8 million pesos ($882,000) for Mariano Jinkis and 4 million pesos for his father. Both men will wear electronic tags and report weekly to the judge’s courtroom.
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis are controlling principals of Full Play, a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina. Burzaco, who was president of another Argentine sports media firm, Torneos y Competencias, when he was charged, handed himself in to Italian police earlier this month.
Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Leslie Adler