Conmebol returned $37m of stolen cash from Swiss accounts of Leoz and Deluca

Nicolas Leoz 3

By Samindra Kunti

October 15 – Conmebol is to receive a windfall $37 million from the Swiss bank accounts of Nicolas Leoz and Eduardo Deluca after the Swiss attorney general stated that “the forfeited funds will be returned directly”.

Leoz (pictured), a former president of Conmebol from 1986 to 2013 and who died in August 2019, and Deluca, a former Conmebol General Secretary and a former member of several FIFA standing committees, were two of the officials in the US Justice Department indictments that were unleashed on the world governing body’s officials in 2015 and came to be known as the FIFAGate scandal.

In a statement the Swiss Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said that the funds, frozen in bank accounts, had been “unlawfully acquired” at Conmebol’s expense.

“As the party suffering harm within the respective criminal proceedings is doubtlessly known – the Conmebol – the forfeited funds will be returned directly to it,” said the OAG said. The OAG emphasised that both Leoz and Deluca had “unlawfully enriched themselves and possibly other persons.”

In May 2015, American authorities indicted more than 40 of the most senior football officials at FIFA, Conmebol and Conmebol in the biggest corruption scandal in the game’s history. The FBI and IRS investigated monies totalling over $200 million, accusing football officials of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

Conmebol trumpeted its own victim status saying that: “These actions modified the perception of the various judicial bodies, moving Conmebol from being considered a “criminal organization” (2015) to an institution “victim” of its leaders.”

Conmebol said: “More than CHF 36,600,000 (approximately $37m) is the amount recovered by Conmebol from personal accounts of Nicolás Leoz and Eduardo Deluca, who had irregularly diverted funds from the body. The Swiss Prosecutor’s Office accepted the claim.

“Monies returned to Conmebol – in Switzerland, Paraguay and the United States – to date amounts to more than $53.5 million. In Paraguay, the sum returned by Leoz’s heirs added up to more than $16.05 million; from the US came a further $550,000.”

The reclaimed money comes at the perfect time for the South American governing body, which is burdened by the financial costs of the coronavirus crisis and the termination of various media rights contracts.

Conmebol said: “This unprecedented achievement comes at an extremely opportune moment, taking into account the harsh effects of the pandemic and the unilateral termination of contracts for the transmission of competitions by Globo and DAZN in the important Brazilian market.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603327132labto1603327132ofdlr1603327132owedi1603327132sni@o1603327132fni1603327132