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Court Reduces Sentence for Former Cayman Islands Soccer Executive Who Pleaded Guilty in FIFA Investigation
On December 12, Judge Chen of the U.S. District Court for the E.D.N.Y. amended the recent sentence entered against Costas Takkas, former general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association. On October 31, Mr. Takkas was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, pay $3 million in restitution, and observe a ban from international soccer organizations FIFA, Caribbean Football Union (CFU), and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). Under the amended sentence, Mr. Takkas was credited 10 months for time served in a Swiss jail prior to extradition; the other terms remained the same.
Mr. Takkas was arrested in Zurich in 2015, as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption involving FIFA. Earlier this year, Mr. Takkas pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, admitting that he laundered millions of dollars in bribes from sports marketing companies to Jeffrey Webb, his longtime associate and the former president of CONCACAF. Mr. Takkas is the second individual sentenced among a group of more than 40 who have been indicted or pleaded guilty since 2015. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On October 25, Judge Chen of the U.S. District Court for the E.D.N.Y. sentenced Hector Trujillo, the former general secretary of Guatemala’s soccer federation and a former judge, to eight months in prison and ordered restitution of $415,000 and forfeiture of $175,000. His sentence comes after a guilty plea to wire fraud and conspiracy in June 2017. Mr. Trujillo was arrested in 2015 as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into FIFA corruption. Trujillo’s sentencing marks the first individual sentenced among a group of more than 40 individuals who have been indicted or pleaded guilty since 2015.
This sentencing comes as part of the U.S. government’s ongoing investigation into corruption in international soccer which has been ongoing. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On June 15, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced that Jorge Luis Arzuaga, a citizen of Argentina and a former managing director of the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges. His guilty plea came in connection with allegations that he facilitated the payment of more than $25 million in bribes to soccer officials by opening and managing bank accounts for those officials. In exchange for his assistance in facilitating these bribes, Arzuaga received over $1 million in bonus payments from other co-conspirators, an amount he agreed to forfeit in connection with his plea.
The guilty plea came as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption in international soccer which has been ongoing since May 2015. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On October 20, the DOJ announced that Aaron Davidson, former president of Traffic Sports USA, Inc., pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges. His guilty plea came in response to allegations that Davidson negotiated and made bribe payments totaling more than $14 million on behalf of Traffic Sports USA to a high ranking soccer official in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches. As part of the plea, Davidson agreed to forfeit approximately half a million dollars and could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years for each count.
The guilty plea came as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption in international soccer. It follows guilty pleas from Traffic Sports USA, Traffic Sports International Inc., and their owner José Hawilla, in connection with related charges brought by the DOJ.
Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On July 29, the DOJ announced that Brayan Jiménez, former president of the Guatemala soccer federation, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges. Jiménez was the president of the Guatemala soccer federation from 2009 to 2015. His guilty plea came in response to allegations that Jiménez received bribes in exchange for awarding media and marketing rights to a Florida company for the Guatemalan national soccer team’s World Cup qualifying games. The bribes, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, were transmitted from U.S. bank accounts. As part of the plea, Jiménez agreed to forfeit $350,000 and could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years for each count.
The guilty plea came as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption in international soccer. 42 individuals and entities have been charged thus far in the investigation, which has been ongoing since May 2015, and Jiménez is the sixteenth person to plead guilty.
Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On May 18, former President of the Nicaraguan Football Federal Julio Rocha was extradited from Switzerland to the United States. He was the final FIFA official to be extradited following the arrests made in Zurich in May 2015, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, which has handled the extradition proceedings over the past year. Mr. Rocha was indicted by the DOJ in May 2015 along with 13 other FIFA officials. Previous Scorecard coverage on the FIFA investigations can be found here.
On March 15, FIFA filed a Victim Statement and Request for Restitution (Statement) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking a portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars that authorities could collect from the former FIFA employees who allegedly engaged in longstanding kickback and bribery schemes. In its Statement, FIFA asserts that the more than 40 defendants charged by the DOJ "grossly abused their positions of trust to enrich themselves," thereby causing significant harm to FIFA including financial losses and damage to FIFA's reputation. FIFA asserts that as the victim of the defendants' crimes, it is entitled to recover restitution under the Mandatory Restitution to Victims Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3663A. FIFA estimates its losses to be at least $28 million in salaries and benefits paid to the defendants, plus $10 million misappropriated as bribes. Time will tell if FIFA ultimately is deemed to qualify for restitution under the Act. Click here to view prior FCPA Scorecard posts on FIFA.
On December 21, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced that it would ban its embattled President, Sepp Blatter, and Vice President, Michel Platini, from all football-related activities for eight years. The ban was imposed as a result of an investigation into a payment of $2 million from FIFA to Platini in 2011 that was authorized by Blatter. The Ethics Committee’s statement on their decision stated that the payment was made without a legal basis. Platini is currently the head of UEFA, the governing body of European football. News reports state that it was widely anticipated that Platini would be elected President of FIFA in the upcoming 2016 election, but he has now withdrawn his candidacy following the Ethics Committee’s decision. Click here to view prior FCPA Scorecard posts on FIFA.
DOJ Charges 16 Additional Individuals with FIFA-Related Corruption; Swiss Authorities Arrest Two High-Ranking FIFA Members
On December 3, 2015 the DOJ charged an additional 16 individuals in connection with the DOJs ongoing corruption investigation into FIFA. The new indictment included a number of high ranking FIFA members, including Alfredo Hawit, the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and vice-president of FIFA, and Juan Angel Napout, the president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and a member of the FIFA executive committee. Both of these individuals were arrested by Swiss authorities in Zurich and are opposing extradition to the United States. With the additional 16 individuals, a total of 41 people and entities have now been charged as part of the DOJs ongoing investigation. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigations can be found here.
Former President of Brazilian Football Confederation Waives Extradition and Pleads Not Guilty in U.S. FIFA Investigation
On October 28, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice announced that Jose Maria Marin, former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation, had agreed to be extradited from Switzerland to the United States as part of the U.S. governments investigation of alleged money laundering and bribery at FIFA. Marin is accused of having taken bribes worth millions of dollars from sports marketing companies in connection with the sale of marketing rights for Copa America and Copa do Brasil tournaments, and to have shared these bribes with other soccer officials. Marin previously had opposed extradition. On November 3, Marin appeared before Judge Raymond Dearie of the United States District Court in of the Eastern District of New York. Marin pleaded not guilty to an array of federal charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. He was released on a $15 million personal recognizance bond with home detention and electronic monitoring. Marin is the second FIFA official to waive extradition. As noted in a previous post, Jeffrey Webb, a former vice president of FIFA, agreed to be extradited to the United States in July. Several other defendants are currently fighting extradition efforts.