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FCPA Blog Daily News

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Friday
Dec042015

FIFA takedown: DOJ indicts 16 more officials, guilty pleas pile up

The DOJ unsealed a 92-count superseding indictment Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York charging 16 more defendants with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies for a 24-year corruption scheme in international soccer. 

The superseding indictment included more charges against seven defendants still pending extradition under the original indictment in May. 

The DOJ also announced guilty pleas of eight defendants indicted in May -- including Jeffrey Webb, Alejandro Burzaco, and José Margulies.

Among the 16 new defendants are Alfredo Hawit and Juan Ángel Napout -- the current presidents of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, respectively -- as well as current FIFA vice presidents and Executive Committee members.

CONCACAF and CONMEBOL are two of FIFA’s six continental confederations. 

Swiss authorities in Zurich Thursday arrested Hawit and Napout at the request of the United States.

The new defendants also include Marco Polo del Nero and Ricardo Teixeira, the current and former presidents of the Brazilian soccer federation. They're both also former members of the FIFA Executive Committee.

Other new defendants are José Luís Meiszner and Eduardo Deluca, the current and former general secretaries of CONMEBOL. 

The 27 defendants in the superseding indictment allegedly "engaged in a number of schemes all designed to solicit and receive well over $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to sell lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches, among other valuable rights and properties," the DOJ said.

Also Thursday, the DOJ executed a search warrant at Media World, a sports marketing company based in Miami.

The DOJ has now charged 41 defendants in the FIFA case. Of those, 12 individuals and two sports marketing companies have already pleaded guilty.

*     *     *

The 16 newly-indicted defendants are:

CONCACAF Region Officials

Alfredo Hawit: Current FIFA vice president and Executive Committee member and CONCACAF president.  Former CONCACAF vice president and Honduran soccer federation president.

Ariel Alvarado: Current member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.  Former CONCACAF Executive Committee member and Panamanian soccer federation president.

Rafael Callejas: Current member of the FIFA Television and Marketing Committee.  Former Honduran soccer federation president and former president of the Republic of Honduras.

Brayan Jiménez: Current Guatemalan soccer federation president and member of the FIFA Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility.

Rafael Salguero: Former FIFA Executive Committee member and Guatemalan soccer federation president.

Héctor Trujillo: Current Guatemalan soccer federation general secretary and judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala.

Reynaldo Vasquez: Former Salvadoran soccer federation president.

CONMEBOL Region Officials

Juan Ángel Napout: Current FIFA vice president and Executive Committee member and CONMEBOL president.  Former Paraguayan soccer federation president.

Manuel Burga: Current member of the FIFA Development Committee. Former Peruvian soccer federation president.

Carlos Chávez: Current CONMEBOL treasurer. Former Bolivian soccer federation president.

Luís Chiriboga: Current Ecuadorian soccer federation president and member of the CONMEBOL Executive Committee.

Marco Polo del Nero: Current president of the Brazilian soccer federation. Announced resignation from FIFA Executive Committee on Nov. 26, 2015.

Eduardo Deluca: Former CONMEBOL general secretary.

José Luis Meiszner: Current CONMEBOL general secretary.

Romer Osuna: Current member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.  Former CONMEBOL treasurer.

Ricardo Teixeira: Former Brazilian soccer federation president and FIFA Executive Committee member.

*     *     *

Additional defendants who have pleaded guilty this year and agreed to forfeit more than $40 million are:

May 26 -- Zorana Danis, the co-founder and owner of International Soccer Marketing Inc., a New Jersey-based sports marketing company, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging her with wire fraud conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Danis agreed to forfeit $2 million.

November 9 -- Fabio Tordin, the former CEO of Traffic Sports USA Inc. and currently an executive with Media World LLC, a Miami-based sports marketing company, pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of tax evasion. Tordin agreed to forfeit more than $600,000.

November 12 -- Luis Bedoya, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, a CONMEBOL vice president and, until last month, the president of the Federación Colombiana de Fútbol, the Colombian soccer federation, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. Bedoya agreed to forfeit all funds on deposit in his Swiss bank account, among other funds.

November 16 -- Alejandro Burzaco, the former general manager and chairman of the board of Torneos y Competencias S.A., an Argentinian sports marketing company, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Burzaco agreed to forfeit more than $21.6 million.

November 17 -- Roger Huguet, the CEO of Media World and its parent company, pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy. Huguet agreed to forfeit more than $600,000.

November 23 -- Jeffrey Webb, a former FIFA vice president and Executive Committee member, CONCACAF president, Caribbean Football Union Executive Committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association president, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. Webb agreed to forfeit more than $6.7 million.

November 23 -- Sergio Jadue, a vice president of CONMEBOL and, until last month, the president of the Asociación Nacional de Fútbol Profesional de Chile, the Chilean soccer federation, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. Jadue agreed to forfeit all funds on deposit in his U.S. bank account, among other funds.

November 25 -- José Margulies, the controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd, an intermediary who facilitated illicit payments between sports marketing executives and soccer officials, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and two counts of money laundering conspiracy. Margulies agreed to forfeit more than $9.2 million.

*     *     *

All of the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, and obstruction of justice charges. 

Tordin and Danis face additional prison terms of three or five years for the tax charges. 

The DOJ said its investigation is ongoing.

The superseding 92-count, 240-page indictment is here (pdf).

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.