Arrests Made In FIFA Bribe Scandal

Header-image-Shalapata-2By Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – Swiss and American authorities have independently moved against soccer’s world governing body,Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). In total, 14 persons have been arrested and charged with an additional four individuals and a corporation already pleading guilty to numerous counts of fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

In Zurich, yesterday, Zurich Cantonal Police seized electronic data and documents at FIFA’s head office, after conducting a criminal investigation regarding the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The files seized yesterday and the collected bank documents will serve criminal proceedings both in Switzerland and abroad.

Soccer officials and suspected bribers were arrested in Zurich and held in custody pending extradition, as part of this investigation, and by order of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice. The Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010.

Arrests were also made by the Swiss after a request by the US Attorney’s Office, which is investigating suspicions of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day.

Representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to delegates of FIFA and FIFA sub-organizations totalling more than $100 million (US). In return, the US alleges that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.

Further to three US requests for legal assistance, the Swiss also ordered the blocking of accounts at several banks in Switzerland through which bribes are claimed to have flowed as well as the seizure of related bank documents.

A 47-count indictment was unsealed in US federal court in Brooklyn, NY, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.

The guilty pleas of four individual defendants and two corporate defendants were also unsealed.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said US Attorney General Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

All told, the soccer officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.

The defendants charged in the US indictment include high-ranking officials FIFA as well as leading officials of other soccer governing bodies that operate under the FIFA umbrella.

  • Eugenio Figueredo, FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONMEBOL president and Uruguayan soccer federation president. Citizen of Uruguay.
  • Eduardo Li, FIFA executive committee member-elect, CONCACAF executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president. Citizen of Costa Rica.
  • José Maria Marin, FIFA organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments member and Brazilian soccer federation (CBF) president. Citizen of Brail.
  • Julio Rocha, FIFA development officer, Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president. Citizen of Nicaragua.
  • Costas Takkas, CONCACAF attaché to the president and CIFA general secretary. Citizen of Great Britain.
  • Jeffrey Webb, FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president. Citizen of Great Britain.
  • Rafael Esquivel, President of the Venezuelan Football Federation and Member of the Executive Committee of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), Venezuelan citizen.
  • Jack Warner, Former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser. Trinidadian.
  • Nicolás Leoz, Former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president. Paraguayan.
  • Alejandro Burzaco, Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates. Argentinian.
  • Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA Inc. (Traffic USA). American.
  • Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, Controlling principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates. Argentinians.
  • José Margulies, aka José Lazaro, Controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd. Brazilian.

The Convicted Individuals and Corporations

On July 15, 2013, the defendant Daryll Warner, son of defendant Jack Warner and a former FIFA development officer, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions.

On Oct. 25, 2013, the defendant Daryan Warner waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and the structuring of financial transactions.  Daryan Warner forfeited over $1.1 million around the time of his plea and has agreed to pay a second forfeiture money judgment at the time of sentencing.

On Nov. 25, 2013, the defendant Charles Blazer, the former CONCACAF general secretary and a former FIFA executive committee member, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a 10-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, income tax evasion and failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).  Blazer forfeited over $1.9 million at the time of his plea and has agreed to pay a second amount to be determined at the time of sentencing.

On Dec. 12, 2014, the defendant José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.

On May 14, 2015, the defendants Traffic Sports USA Inc. and Traffic Sports International Inc. (British Virgin Islands) pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata

Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States.
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