FIFA corruption arrests: The indicted defendants named
Swiss authorities have arrested several top FIFA officials and plan to extradite them to the United States, where they will face federal corruption charges.
Fourteen defendants have been named by the U.S. Department of Justice: nine officials from FIFA and five corporate executives.
Most of the alleged schemes are in connection with media and marketing rights associated with FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF region, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, the jointly organized CONMEBOL/CONCACAF Copa America Centenario, the CONMEBOL Copa America, the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil, which is organized by the Brazilian national soccer federation (CBF).
Other alleged schemes relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the sponsorship of CBF by a major U.S. sportswear company, the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.
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The nine defendants connected to FIFA are:
Jeffrey Webb: The 50-year-old FIFA vice president and executive committee member was once hailed by Sepp Blatter as a future president of world football's governing body. He is the head of CONCACAF and is the highest-profile FIFA official arrested in dawn raids in Zurich. In its indictment, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that an intermediary negotiated a bribe on his behalf that led to the awarding of the 2013 Gold Cup rights, one of several charges he faces. A member of the FIFA World Cup organising committee and finance committee, Webb led the way in calling for full publication of the Garcia report into allegations of corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 to Qatar.
Eduardo Li: President of the Costa Rican Football Federation, he was due to join FIFA's executive committee on Friday. A CONCACAF executive committee member, he is considered to be one of the most powerful football administrators in Central America. U.S. authorities allege that along with others named in the indictment, he used his position to "engage in schemes involving the soliciting, offer, acceptance, payment, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks."
Julio Rocha: A FIFA development officer, he is responsible for identifying and implementing a range of projects around the world. The 64-year-old is a former Central American Football Union president and Nicaraguan soccer federation president. Despite being the lowest-profile FIFA official to be arrested, Rocha is accused of being part of a corrupt network with world football's governing body.
Costas Takkas: A close friend and adviser to Webb, Takkas is the former general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association. One of the specific charges against him is that he purchased an expensive painting from a New York art gallery as an illegal inducement for a FIFA official. Other charges include receiving payments on behalf of others into his Cayman Islands company and that he "provided aid and assistance" to Webb to "solicit a bribe from Traffic USA," a sports marketing company.
Jack Warner: Although not one of those arrested in Zurich, the former FIFA vice president and executive committee member is already one of the most controversial figures in the game after leaving football when implicated in a number of corruption scandals. The U.S. indictment alleges that he solicited and accepted bribes, including for his vote on who should host the 1998 and 2010 World Cups. It adds that he diverted funds designated for football projects to pay for a condominium in Miami. Warner already has issued a statement saying: "I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges."
Eugenio Figueredo: The 83-year-old Uruguayan is a former president of CONMEBOL and a former professional footballer who is also a member of his country's football association. The U.S. indictment alleges that along with others named he used a series of elaborate mechanisms to conceal illegal payments and that they received "millions of dollars from sports marketing companies to retain media rights." Along with Rafael Esquivel and Nicolas Leoz, Figueredo is specifically named as benefiting from $3.5 million over a five-year period.
Rafael Esquivel: The current CONMEBOL executive committee member and Venezuelan football federation president is one of the longest-serving executives in South American football. He also sits on FIFA's disciplinary committee. He has been charged with accepting millions of dollars in bribes. The indictment alleges that during one five-year period between March 2003 and March 2008, along with others named by U.S. authorities, Esquivel received more than $3.5 million in illegal payments from a sports marketing company.
Jose Maria Marin: Vice president of the Brazil Football Federation (CBF) and its former president, Marin was also head of last year's World Cup organising committee. The 83-year-old is currently heading FIFA's organising committee for Olympic football tournaments. The indictment states that he conspired with others by engaging in "various criminal activities including fraud, bribery and money laundering, in pursuit of personal and commercial gain."
Nicolas Leoz: The Paraguayan, aged 86, is a former sports journalist and was president of CONMEBOL from 1986 until 2013. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused him of soliciting bribes for the renewal of commercial contracts. The money, it claims, was channeled through offshore corporations. It also states that he used a series of intermediaries and other complex procedures to evade anti-money-laundering controls. The indictment also makes references to an executive from sports marketing firm Traffic Group, which allegedly wired a "six figure" sum in U.S. dollars in 1991 in return for his company being given exclusive rights to three years of the Copa America. As with Warner, Leoz was not in Zurich and still faces arrest. He has not yet commented on the charges against him.
Four of the defendants are or were sports marketing executives:
Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
Aaron Davidson: President of Traffic Sports USA Inc. Based in Miami, the company was involved in the purchase and sale of media and marketing rights for football in the USA and CONCACAF region. Traffic Sports USA is part of a multinational sports marketing conglomerate based in Brazil.
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis: Controlling principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates that specialised in securing rights for South American football.
One of the defendants was in the broadcasting business but allegedly served as an intermediary to facilitate illicit payments between sports marketing executives and soccer officials:
Jose Margulies: A Brazilian national who was controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd., companies that were registered in Panama and Turks and Caicos Islands and involved in the broadcasting of football matches.
The following individuals and corporations previously pleaded guilty:
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 more than $1.1 million about 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 charge including 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 more than $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 Jose 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 more than $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. pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.