Sentencing in FIFA case set for June
Unnamed individuals, including Caymanians, handled some of what U.S. prosecutors said was bribe money paid to Caymanian Jeffrey Webb between 2012 and 2014, according to federal court records released last week.
Meanwhile, multinational corporations argued over how to pay Webb millions in exchange for decisions to grant commercial rights for various football tournaments held in the Caribbean, Central and North America.
Webb, 51, pleaded guilty last month to seven of the original 15 charges against him in U.S. federal court. The main charge in the indictment alleges Webb’s participation in a racketeering scheme, along with a number of other former FIFA officials and executives in Western Hemisphere sports marketing companies.
The racketeering charge, which is leveled against all FIFA officials allegedly involved in the bribery scheme, relates to making money through illegal activities.
The other six charges Webb pleaded guilty to included three counts each of money laundering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. Those charges were filed in May.
Federal prosecutors revealed a superseding indictment on Dec. 3 in which Webb is no longer charged as a result of his guilty plea. The new charges reveal a number of details regarding the Cayman Islands businessman’s activities, and those of his associates that were not previously public knowledge.
Webb’s sentencing in connection with the guilty plea is scheduled for June 3, 2016 in the Eastern District federal court of New York, prosecutors said. His attorney, Edward O’Callaghan, did not return calls seeking comment last week.
$3 million ‘bribe’
Many of the charges in the former indictment are repeated in the papers prosecutors released on Dec. 3. For instance, details of a US$3 million bribe payment requested by Webb via intermediaries in 2012 was partly paid by U.S. sports marketing company, Traffic USA, the indictment alleges.
However, Traffic USA paid only half of the bribe money, the indictment reveals. The other company involved, now named as Media World, also joined in the scheme to obtain the marketing rights to certain 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches – rights that were previously held by Caribbean Football Union member associations.
The second portion of the bribe payment, which was promised in 2012 when a $23 million contract for the commercial rights was signed, had still not been paid as of April 2014, the new indictment alleges.
It is alleged that Roger Huguet – the CEO of Media World – and Webb’s attaché Costas Takkas, who is also charged in the FIFA probe, met in South Florida to arrange the payment for Webb. Eventually, some cash was transmitted to Takkas. In one instance dating from October 2014, US$80,000 was wired from a Panama bank account to a Bank of America account in New York City “for credit to an account held in the name of individual #3, a Caymanian attorney,” according to the indictment.
The Caymanian attorney’s name is known to the U.S. grand jury reviewing charges in the FIFA case, prosecutors said.
In December 2014, it is alleged that US$170,000 was wired from Panama to a Deutsche Bank Trust Company account in New York City and then forwarded to an account held by Takkas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The payments stopped in early 2015, the indictment states, when Huguet was informed about the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation and that Media World “should not make additional payments toward the US$1.5 million bribe it owed to Jeffrey Webb.”
The indictment refers to another US$1.1 million Webb solicited through an intermediary, from Traffic USA, also in 2012.
The contract sought by Traffic, according to U.S. federal court indictments, was for the commercialization rights to the 2013 version of the Gold Cup tournament and the 2013/14 and 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League competitions.
The indictment alleges that the rights to those football games were sold to Traffic USA after then-CONCACAF President Webb solicited US$1.1 million in bribe payments from the company, through an intermediary.
CONCACAF is FIFA’s regional governing body for the Caribbean, Central and North America.
It is alleged that Webb organized a “false invoice” to be sent to Traffic USA to disguise the nature of the payment. The invoice was sent from an unidentified “soccer” uniform company by former CONCACAF General-Secretary Enrique Sanz, prosecutors allege.
The indictment alleges: “Co-conspirator #24, like the defendant Costas Takkas, a close associate of Webb, had a connection to ‘Soccer Uniform Company A.’”
Co-conspirator #24 is not identified in the court records.