Regional football body CONCACAF has settled a lawsuit against the estate of Charles ‘Chuck’ Blazer in which it accused the former secretary general of the organisation of having used New York, Delaware and Cayman Islands companies and bank accounts to cheat CONCACAF out of millions of dollars between the early 1990s and 2011.
Football’s governing organisation for the Caribbean, North American and Central American region, sought repayment of at least US$20 million in the suit filed in April 2017.
On March 29, the Eastern District Court in New York entered a $20 million judgment in favour of CONCACAF and recognised a settlement agreement between the organisation and Blazer’s insolvent estate, which succeeded Blazer and six companies he controlled as a defendant in the case.
However, the football body is not expected to receive any money from the estate.
This settlement agreement details that prior to his death on July 12, 2017, Blazer owed at least $18 million in federal income taxes. The administrator of the estate uncovered assets worth about $845,000 but determined it is unlikely that any additional assets discovered will be sufficient to satisfy the federal and state tax liens or any other creditors.
The CONCACAF suit also named Jack Warner, the organisation’s former president, who remains a defendant.
In 2013, Blazer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and other fraud, as well as breaches of fiduciary duty. “Beginning in or about 1993 and continuing through the early 2000s, I and others agreed to accept bribes and kickbacks in conjunction with the broadcast and other rights to the 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003 Gold Cups,” Blazer told the court in his plea hearing at the time.
“Beginning in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011, I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup,” he said, according to a court transcript.
Some of Blazer’s ill-gotten gains passed through bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, according to Blazer’s guilty plea and an investigation by CONCACAF’s ethics committee released in 2013. The civil suit and the criminal indictment allege that Warner and Blazer used, among others, two Cayman entities – Sportvertising (Cayman) and En Passant – to “cover up their schemes”.
An internal CONCACAF investigation found that up to 1998 Blazer received at least $11 million in commissions and $3.5 million in fees outside of his employment contracts. After 1998, a CONCACAF Integrity Committee report concluded, Blazer accrued an additional $6 million in commissions.
The commissions and fees came from an agreement allegedly concluded between Blazer and Warner on behalf of Sportvertising and CONCACAF, giving the Cayman company a percentage of all broadcast and sponsorship revenues.
In addition, CONCACAF had accused Blazer of having misused CONCACAF assets to pay about $1.5 million in rent for various apartments in New York’s Trump Tower. One of them was reportedly used solely to house Blazer’s cats. He also allegedly used CONCACAF funds to buy an apartment in the Bahamas, a Hummer H2 vehicle and pay off credit card debts related to his personal expenses.
Blazer’s guilty plea was kept under seal at the time, as he cooperated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations to build a racketeering case against other FIFA and CONCACAF officials. In 2015, this culminated in corruption charges against more than 40 FIFA officials worldwide, including Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb and the UK’s Costas Takkas.
While Takkas has already served his prison sentence, Webb has pleaded guilty to his participation in a bribery and kickback scheme but is still awaiting sentencing.