Two former executives of the American giant Fox and the Argentine company Full Play sit as of this Tuesday on the bench of justice in New York accused of corruption, bank fraud and money laundering, in the framework of the mega-scandal of bribery in FIFA that broke out in 2015.
They are the Mexican-American Carlos Martínez and the Argentine-American Hernán López, who worked at the 21st Century Fox company and the Full Play group, a sports marketing agency based in Buenos Aires (Argentina), and owned by the Argentine defendants. Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, fugitives from US justice.
The US justice alleges that between 2005 and 2015, “the defendants agreed to pay, paid and facilitated the payment and concealment of annual bribes and payment of illegal commissions” to officials of the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) in exchange for lucrative contracts broadcast of friendly matches of the Copa Libertadores and other soccer events, and obtain privileged information to get the broadcast rights in the United States of the matches of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
In the same case, the Spanish Gerard Romy, former president of the sports company Imagina, is also accused.
On April 9, 2020, in the midst of the covid pandemic, the two defendants pleaded not guilty and agreed to pay bail of $15 million each to await trial in freedom.
The selection of the jury that will seal the fate of the defendants has already begun, the Brooklyn court reported, so the initial arguments could begin the same Tuesday, before Judge Pamela Chen, instructor of the case.
According to the FBI (federal police), the defendants “for many years corrupted the governance and business of international soccer with bribery and kickbacks, and engaged in fraudulent criminal schemes that caused significant damage to the sport of soccer.”
“Their schemes included the use of shell companies, bogus consulting contracts and other concealment methods to disguise bribes and kickback payments and make them appear legitimate.” The charges carry maximum prison terms of 20 years for each offense.
Romy is also charged with conspiracy to commit a crime for paying a $3 million bribe to former Concacaf boss Jeffrey Webb, in exchange for the rights to broadcast qualifying matches for the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) World Cups. according to the prosecution.
The case is part of the so-called ‘FIFAgate’, the corruption scandal that rocked world soccer authority in 2015, and which cost then-president Sepp Blatter his job.
US justice has accused some 45 people and several sports companies of more than 90 crimes and paying or accepting more than 200 million dollars in bribes.
Of them, 27 pleaded guilty -four of them have died-; other defendants who have pleaded guilty have been sentenced, and others who have pleaded guilty are still awaiting sentencing. Two others were found guilty at trial and sentenced to different sentences.
In addition, four companies pleaded guilty, two others reached deferred prosecution agreements and two others paid fines.
The awarding of the venues for the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) World Cups was marked by corruption, according to US justice.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.