US Attorney General Loretta Lynch stands with President Obama shortly after she was officially named to her new position(Reuters)
Brand new US Attorney Loretta Lynch exploded across the global news scene last week when the long arm of American law reached across nations to snatch up Fifa officials charged in a major FBI corruption investigation into the sports organisation.
Lynch — a powerhouse, whip-smart take-no-prisoners super prosecutor — had just been confirmed as the nation’s top law enforcer a month before she lowered the boom on Fifa operators on racketeering, money-laundering and wire fraud charges suspected for decades. It was the culmination of a probe begun in Lynch’s old bailiwick of the Eastern District of New York when Manhattan snitch and co-conspirator Chuck Blazer began bugging his colleagues in a desperate bid to shave time off his own pending sentence for failing to pay federal taxes.
The 83rd US Attorney, 55 years old, is only the second women, and first African American woman ever to take the post. The Harvard graduate and North Carolina daughter of a Baptist minister and librarian began working in the Eastern District in 1990, and prosecuted drug offences and violent crime in Brooklyn and political corruption in Long Island.
The scourge of the mafia, drug dealers and terrorists
She became the district boss in 1999 and again in 2010 after President Barack Obama called her back from private practice. Lynch oversaw a slew of financial investigations that targeted some of the world’s biggest banks and won admissions of rigging multi-billion-dollar markets in mortgages and currency trades.
“This is one where she hits a home run. It helps to define who she is and helps to define her to the American people”
– Mark Corallo
She’s considered the scourge of drug dealers, Mafioso, terrorists — and now is “shocking Fifa like an earthquake,” notes Germany’s Bild, all the more striking because a women is delivering a staggering blow against a male fiefdom.
The Fifa crackdown was a stunning public relations victory lap as well as a lightning-strike law enforcement investigation.
“People care about sports. It’s a huge story, and it is a heck of a lot more interesting than the average tax case — and this one is a tax case,” Mark Corallo, a former aide to John Ashcroft, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, told Politico.
“This is one where she hits a home run. It helps to define who she is and helps to define her to the American people.”
Football’s new hero
But it’s not only America where Lynch has made an impression. The Fifa investigation steamroller is gathering momentum as finger-pointing will undoubtedly lead to more indictments. The probe has even convinced Sepp Blatter to step down in the wake of information that his No. 2 Jérôme Valcke has been linked to payments tied to an alleged $10m (£6.5m) bribe to Fifa from South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup. It’s a scenario world football fans have dreamed of for years.
The BBC hailed Lynch as the “woman who took on Fifa.” The Guardian praised her welcome crackdown, the “ugliest day in the history of the beautiful game,” similar to the bloody “clean-up” scene at the end of The Godfather film.
Comparing Lynch to soccer greats Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, journalist Tunku Varadarjan gushed in Politico Europe: “The pantheon of world soccer has a new hero.”
More about Loretta Lynch, Fifa crackdown
- Sepp Blatter resigns: Could Qatar be stripped of the 2022 World Cup?
- Fifa President Sepp Blatter ‘shocked’ by comments of US prosecutors, condemns UEFA ‘hate campaign’
- Fifa crisis: The nine officials wanted on corruption charges by US investigators named
- Fifa in Crisis: Barclays and Standard Chartered launch reviews into payments to corrupt football officials
- Baltimore riots 2015: US Justice Department to investigate police in wake of Freddie Gray death
- US Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as first black female US attorney general in historic vote