December 14 – The US-led probe into widespread football corruption has been marked by another significant development with an Argentine sports media company caught up the scandal agreeing to pay about $112.8 million as part of a deal to resolve charges stemming from the investigation, according to court documents.
The deferred prosecution agreement with Torneos y Competencias, whose former chief executive Alejandro Burzaco, having initially evaded arrest, pleaded guilty last year to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, was approved by U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.
Under the deal, Torneos agreed to forfeit $89 million and pay a $23.76 million penalty after being charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, which will be dropped if the company abides by the agreement’s terms for four years.
Outside of court, Ignacio Galarza, the company’s general manager, said he welcomed the agreement. “Today is a great day for us as we start to leave this investigation behind,” Galarza told reporters.
In a statement, Brooklyn US Attorney Robert Capers said the company cooperated and is “being given a chance to change the way the business of soccer is done in the future.”
As part of the agreement, the company said it would implement internal compliance and accounting controls.
The company is one of 43 individuals and entities, many of them high-ranking former FIFA officials, charged as part of the investigation that brought FIFA to its knees and indirectly led to the downfall of Sepp Blatter. To date, 20 people and two related companies have pleaded guilty in connection with the probe.
Prosecutors claim Torneos paid bribes and kickbacks to high-ranking officials over 15 years to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights for international tournaments including 2018, 2022, 2026, and 2030 World Cup games in several South American countries, among them Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Court documents also say that Torneos paid millions of dollars in annual bribes to support its affiliate, T&T Sports Marketing in which it reportedly holds a 25% stake.
To conceal the scheme, Torneos and co-conspirators allegedly used bogus contracts and invoices, “corrupt intermediaries and bankers,” shell companies and cash.
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