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Argentina firm pays $112 million to resolve FIFA bribe charges

A South American sports marketing company admitted Tuesday that it paid millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to FIFA officials to win broadcast rights for the 2018, 2022, 2026, and 2030 FIFA World Cups.

Torneos y Competencias S.A. was charged in federal court in Brooklyn with wire fraud conspiracy.

It agreed to pay $112.8 million in forfeiture and criminal penalties.

Torneos entered into a four-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ. The DPA requires Torneos to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation and enhance its compliance program and internal controls.

The DOJ has charged 42 defendants in the FIFA corruption prosecution. Most were charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies.

Nineteen defendants have now pleaded guilty.

To win marketing and media rights to soccer tournaments and matches, Torneos bribed high-ranking FIFA officials. It also admitted bribing two FIFA confederations -- CONCACAF and CONMEBOL -- and several national member associations, including the Argentine national soccer federation.

The tournaments and matches included the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores, the CONMEBOL Copa América, the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF Copa América Centenario, and international friendlies with the Argentina national team.

Torneos used sham contracts and invoices and shell companies, and relied on corrupt middlemen and bankers, to hide and move the bribes and kickbacks.

The company agreed Tuesday to forfeit about $89.1 million. That's the profit it made from corrupt contracts, the DOJ said.

Torneos will also pay a criminal penalty of $23.7 million.

The DOJ said Torneos has already fired its senior management and hired a new general manager, CFO, legal director and chief compliance officer, and compliance manager.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.