US judge rejects FIFA’s restitution argument awarding just $108k

November 22 – In what will be judged as bitter disappointment for both FIFA and regional confederations Concacaf and Conmebol, a US judge has ruled that they can collectively recoup just $2.63 million from two former officials convicted on bribery charges, a small fraction of the roughly $125 million they had sought.

The decision on Tuesday by US District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn is a huge setback for the three governing bodies who were seeking considerable restitution from former Brazilian federation president José Maria Marin and ex-Conmebol chief Juan Angel Napout.

Chen said FIFA was entitled to just $108,268 of the roughly $28 million it wanted while Concacaf was awarded $1.74 million after requesting $9.8 million and Conmebol awarded $783,662 after requesting $86.8 million

Marin and Napout were among more than 40 individuals and companies charged in the ongoing the FifaGate scandal in which two dozen officials have so far pleaded guilty. Jurors last December found Marin and Napout guilty of conspiracy charges, and Marin of wire fraud.

Marin was sentenced to four years in prison and a $1.2 million fine and Napout to nine years in prison and a $1 million fine. Both appealed their convictions and sentences.

FIFA had sought restitution largely for legal and consulting fees, while Concacaf and Conmebol’s requests mainly concerned lost revenue.

FIFA has paid more than $80 million to lawyers with the bulk going to Quinn Emanuel, but in her 32-page ruling, Chen said FIFA did not deserve most of what it sought because it had “proactively approached” US investigators to look into possible corruption, perhaps to preserve its “victim status” and avoid prosecution.

“As defendant Napout correctly argues, ‘a corporation acting out of self-preservation cannot turn around and have its costs reimbursed through restitution,'” Chen wrote.

The judge rejected CONCACAF’s revenue claim because it lacked a “sound methodology,” and said CONMEBOL didn’t show how $85.4 million of bribes allegedly paid was a fair measure of lost revenue, “given the rampant corruption that seemingly affected all of the comparable tournament contracts.”

FIFA’s lawyer Stephen Hauss said the organisation was disappointed because the decision “effectively punishes FIFA for acting the way a victim should act.” He said FIFA remained committed to helping hold the defendants accountable.

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