By Tony Attwood
In my original article on the change in the Swiss law which has allowed the Fifa arrests to happen today I made the point that this could result in arrests at the next Swiss conference of Fifa. And so it proved to be. Although some correspondents have pointed out quite rightly that others have followed this story, I am not sure many or any of them suggested that following that December law change the next big Fifa conflab would be targeted by the FBI. So I’m still feeling chuffed at having thought of that as a possibility. If Fifa had done what I had jokingly suggested and followed the IOC in moving their conferences to places with no extradition treaty, they would still be safe.
It’s a good job they don’t read Untold.
So what is the latest?
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has blocked bank accounts in Switzerland through which bribes are claimed to have flowed, which is going to slow down Fifa a bit.
And a search warrant has been issued for CONCACAF headquarters on Miami Beach, and pictures suggest the Federal agents are already in there, doing their stuff.
And here’s a good one: they’ve gone after Jeffrey Webb, who is the head of Fifa’s internal audit committee.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable. Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Currie added, “Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation.”
All told, the officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.
As set forth in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators fall into three categories: soccer officials acting in a fiduciary capacity within Fifa and one or more of its constituent organizations; sports media and marketing company executives; and businessmen, bankers and other intermediaries who laundered illicit payments.
The people who pleaded guilty…
Daryll Warner, son of defendant Jack Warner and a former Fifa development officer, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions.
He also pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and the structuring of financial transactions. Daryan Warner forfeited over $1.1 million around the time of his plea and has agreed to pay a second forfeiture money judgement at the time of sentencing.
Charles Blazer, pleaded guilty to a 10-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, income tax evasion and failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. Blazer forfeited over $1.9 million at the time of his plea and has agreed to pay a second amount to be determined at the time of sentencing.
José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.
Traffic Sports USA Inc. and Traffic Sports International Inc. pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.
The indicted and convicted individual defendants face maximum terms of imprisonment of 20 years for the RICO conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges.
In addition, Eugenio Figueredo faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for a charge of naturalization fraud and could have his U.S. citizenship revoked. He also faces a maximum term of incarceration of five years for each tax charge.
Chuck Blazer faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for the FBAR charge and five years for the tax evasion charges; and Daryan and Daryll Warner face maximum terms of incarceration of 10 years for structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements. Each individual defendant also faces mandatory restitution, forfeiture and a fine. By the terms of their plea agreements, the corporate defendants face fines of $500,000 and one year of probation.