US$3 million sought from FIFA defendant Takkas

Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.
Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most-trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.

Attorneys for world football’s Central/North American and Caribbean region have asked a U.S. court to order FIFA corruption defendant and former Cayman Islands resident Costas Takkas to pay US$3 million to the Caribbean Football Union in recompense for bribe money ultimately given to Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb.

Federal prosecutors have supported that request from CONCACAF made on behalf of the Caribbean Football Union in papers filed with the court last week.

Takkas, a U.K. national who lived in Cayman for about two decades, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday for his role in the FIFA racketeering and bribery scheme.

The former Cayman Islands Football Association official has argued in pre-sentencing documents that the length of time already served in Swiss prison awaiting extradition to the U.S. following his May 27, 2015 arrest in Zurich, as well as what he views as his relatively minor role in the bribery scheme, should not result in any further prison time being given against him Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. attorneys disagreed with that position last week.

- Advertisement -

“With respect to his role in the offense, the defendant [Takkas] argues that he was nothing more than a ‘bagman, gofer, errand-boy, hanger-on and factorum’ for Webb,” the U.S. attorneys stated in an Oct. 27 letter to Eastern District Court Judge Pamela Chen. “While the defendant was indeed those things, he also used his knowledge of, and experience with, international financial transactions in order to independently devise the particular methods and means for receiving bribe payments on Webb’s behalf after Webb instructed him to achieve that goal.”

It has been revealed in court records, including the 2015 indictments against Webb, Takkas and other FIFA defendants, that two sports marketing companies arranged to pay Webb US$3 million in bribes to secure marketing rights to World Cup qualifying matches in the Caribbean and Central American region. Although only US$1.75 million of that amount was ever paid, the court alleges that Takkas was involved in laundering all of the money that was paid in bribes.

Takkas pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy in federal court last May in connection with the FIFA scheme.

Caribbean Football Union officials argue that because the two sports marketing companies involved were “willing to pay CFU at least US$3 million more for its media and marketing rights in an honest transaction,” the union believes Takkas’s actions “harmed CFU in at least that amount” and that he should be ordered to pay at least that much in restitution.

“That money could have gone towards youth or women’s soccer development in that poverty-stricken region,” the U.S. prosecutors stated. “Instead, that money went into Webb’s pocket, or the pocket of the … executive who assisted him, or to the sports marketing companies that agreed to bribe Webb ….”

In his pre-sentencing report, Takkas’s representatives stated his conduct in the money laundering scheme that directed the bribes to Webb did not “fit any traditional yardstick of money laundering.”

“Yet that is exactly what it does,” the prosecutors argue. “He promoted and disguised the payment of bribes through transactions involving multiple jurisdictions, shell companies, and sham contracts and invoices and lies to bank personnel. That is a money launderer’s role.”

Takkas emphasized that he did not receive a “cut” of Webb’s bribe proceeds. He stated in court documents that he got “caught up” in the excitement of being part of international soccer and committed his crime because of his relationship with Webb, the former FIFA vice president.

“That the defendant’s motives may have been psychological or emotional, rather than venal, does not in any way mitigate his conduct,” the prosecutors stated.

In addition to the request to repay US$3 million to the Caribbean Football Union, prosecutors are asking the court to use sentencing guidelines that would put Takkas in prison for between 44 and 51 months. Takkas’s attorneys have argued for no further jail time and have asked that the court “let go” of any request for restitution against him.

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now