By Andrew Warshaw
August 29 – Nicolás Leoz, the one-time Paraguayan powerbroker alleged to have been one of the masterminds of the corruption scandal that brought FIFA to its knees but who managed to escape the clutches of US prosecutors, has died at the age of 90.
Leoz had been under house arrest for four years in Paraguay fighting extradition.
His lawyer Ricardo Preda told The Associated Press his client died Wednesday after a cardiac arrest linked to age-related ailments.
Leoz, who ran Conmebol for 27 years from 1986-2013, was indicted by US justice authorities in 2015. In May last year the Paraguayan Court of Appeals approved by two to one an extradition order and it was anticipated he would launch one final appeal at the Supreme court in his homeland.
The US Justice Department suspected Leoz, who quit all his FIFA roles in 2013 citing health issues but for years was seemingly untouchable, of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from marketing companies in exchange for TV and marketing rights
Although during the trials of others involved in the scandal, he was repeatedly named as being a key figure in the alleged bribery and kick-back schemes, his legal team frustrated all attempts to put him on trial.
One of his achievements as CONMEBOL president was to gain diplomatic immunity for its headquarters in Asunción as protection from prosecution.
One prosecution witness Alejandro Burzaco, former chief executive of sports-marketing giants Torneos y Competencias, claimed Leoz had pocketed a $5 million payment from FIFA that was meant for Conmebol from revenues generated by the Club World Cup.
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