FIFA suspect Webb 'keeping up champagne lifestyle'


New York (AFP)

Jeffrey Webb, the disgraced former FIFA vice president, has kept up a millionaire lifestyle quaffing champagne, gambling and partying while under US house arrest awaiting sentence for corruption, according to football's world body.

The 51-year-old husband of American gynecologist Kendra Gamble-Webb was the first former FIFA official to appear publicly in a New York court last July and quietly cut a plea deal four months later.

The Cayman Islands-British citizen pled guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. He promised to forfeit more than $6.7 million in assets and is to be formally sentenced in June.

Last July he was confined to house arrest in New York on a $10 million bond. But within weeks Webb was allowed to move home to Loganville, Georgia, albeit subject to electronic monitoring, home detention and a security detail.

On Wednesday, FIFA's American lawyers complained in a letter to the US attorney's office that Webb enjoys an "extravagant lifestyle" at a home he may have purchased "with bribes and kickbacks."

"According to reports, he recently hosted an expensive themed birthday party for his wife, replete with entertainment and gambling tables," the Washington DC law firm wrote, enclosing a Cayman Islands media report.

The story published by the Cayman News Service said Webb enjoyed a "lavish" Harlem Renaissance themed party "at his Georgia mansion" to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday, attended by friends and family.

The report, dated February 8, included photos purportedly of Webb dressed in a white dinner jacket and bow tie playing a winning hand at a blackjack table with a huge grin on his face, and giving a speech next to a cake.

The photographs, which were allegedly posted on Facebook, showed his wife dressed in a beaded evening gown, glittering 1920s style head piece, white gloves and holding a champagne glass.

The report said the party came "just hours" after Canover Watson, Webb's former friend, was sentenced to seven years in the Cayman Islands for corruption.

- Mansion, swimming pool -

In the letter to the US attorney's office, FIFA's lawyers requested an "immediate" audit of Webb's funds and assets, expressing concern that he may not have fully disclosed them to the court.

"At a minimum, his resources are not being protected for the benefit of his victims," they wrote.

The FIFA action claimed proceeds of a $3 million bribe requested by Webb as president of the Cayman Islands Football Association were paid into bank accounts in Georgia and enabled him to buy "a small mansion and install a swimming pool."

The lawsuit said FIFA was entitled to recover damages and $28.2 million in lost salaries, per diems, travel and other costs spent on defendants who dragged the organization's name through the mud, including $2 million from Webb.

Last July's details of his $10 million bond also lifted the lid on phenomenal wealth that Webb accumulated while FIFA vice president, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association and of CONCACAF, football's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Two homes in his name, two in the couple's name and a fifth in his wife's name were among 10 properties listed to secure his bond. The others are owned by relatives.

Two luxury cars in his wife's name -- a 2014 Range Rover and a 2015 Ferrari -- were also stumped up, as well as Webb's Mercedes-Benz. Webb also handed over 11 watches, including four Rolex and a Cartier Roadster.

His wife proffered her diamond wedding ring, a diamond bracelet, pearl and diamond necklaces and earrings, and two watches, including a Rolex.

Well before his arrest, extravagant details of the Webbs' 2013 August wedding and the opulent lifestyle they enjoyed were also revealed by wedding planners Grace Ormonde Wedding Style on their website.

Webb proposed over champagne in an Atlanta restaurant and they married at the five-star St Regis hotel, where they regularly frequented the spa and enjoyed romantic weekend getaways, Gamble-Webb was quoted as saying.

The couple were photographed cutting a football-shaped cake, and honeymooned in the south of France and Grenada, the website reported.

US authorities did not immediately comment on the FIFA demand.