FifaGate: Criminal conspirator Salguero gets free pass for co-operating with FBI

September 7 – Former Guatemala football chief and one-time FIFA executive committee member Rafael Salguero avoided a jail term when he was sentenced on Thursday to time served, releasing him from house arrest following his role in the FifaGate corruption scandal.

The 73-year-old pleaded guilty in October 2016 to criminal conspiracy, two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money and spent three years under house arrest at a secret location while providing information.

He had faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count but because he had co-operated with US authorities received a reduced term.

Judge Pamela Chen accepted the recommendation of the US government that Salguero be sentenced to time served and two years’ probation. She also ordered Salguero to pay back up to US$288,000 which he admitted receiving in bribes in exchange for granting television and marketing rights to football tournaments and the illegal resale of World Cup tickets.

“I am calm and happy,” Salguero told AFP after the hearing in federal court. “I will go back to Guatemala whenever I can. I want to be with my family and devote myself to them.”

In court he apologised for his mistakes, but blamed them on a “tsunami in world football” – a reference to the global corruption scandal that irritated the judge.

“Tsunami suggests a lack of control. He could have easily done his duty honestly,” Chen told the court. “But he chose not to.”

According to a transcript of his plea that was unsealed earlier this week, Salguero claimed that while on FIFA’s executive committee in 2010, he was approached by someone seeking to buy his vote in the 2018 World Cup ballot.

He said he was told a wealthy person in Italy wanted to pay him “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to vote for a certain country, the name of which was blacked out of the transcript which said that although Salguero told the court he voted for the bid he was told to, he never received the money and did not make a trip to Italy as was suggested.

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