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Esquivel pleads guilty and pledges to hand over $16m

November 11 – Former Venezuela FA chief Rafael Esquivel pleaded guilty Thursday as anticipated to multiple charges resulting from the global football corruption scandal.

Esquivel pleaded guilty to seven counts of racketeering, money laundering conspiracies and wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“Esquivel used his influence as a soccer official to obtain millions of dollars in bribe payments,” US officials said in a statement.

Esquivel, a former vice president of CONMEBOL,  agreed to forfeit $16 million, raising total forfeitures in the scandal to more than $200 million.

Esquivel, detained in the infamous initial swoop on the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich in May last year, was extradited to the United States in March and was among six defendants scheduled to face trial in 2017. The other five, all past senior FIFA figures, are still under house arrest.

So far of the 42 individuals and entities caught up in the scandal, 19 have pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say the defendants engaged in schemes involving more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks over more than 20 years that were sought and received by in exchange for marketing and broadcasting rights to tournaments and matches.

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