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DOJ announces 16 more indictments in FIFA scandal

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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced an additional 16 indictments in its ongoing investigation into corruption in world soccer’s governing body, FIFA. The new charges, centering around allegations of over $200 million in criminal bribes and kickbacks, come seven months after 14 other high-ranking executives and business associates were charged in the DOJ’s first round of indictments.

The DOJ announced the indictments at an early afternoon press conference in New York, having already worked with Swiss Federal Office of Justice authorities earlier in the day to detain CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout and CONMEBOL president Alfredo Hawit.

As announced by US Attorney General Attorney Loretta Lynch, “a grand jury in Brooklyn has a 92-count superseding indictment which includes charges against 16 new defendants, all of whom are current or former soccer officials …

“Each of the 16 new defendants are charged with racketeering and conspiracy and other crimes in connection with their sustained abuse [of their power] … as set forth in the indictment.”

Thursday’s charges bring the total number of defendants charged in the investigation to 41. Lynch:

[The indictments] involve payments related to tournaments that have already been played as well as matches scheduled into the next decade, including multiple cycles of FIFA World Cup qualifiers and international matches involving six Central American soccer officials … these defendants, as alleged , sought to institutionalize the corruption, to make sure it lived on, not for the goof of the game but for their own personal aggrandizement.

Attorney General Lynch also announced new guilty pleas from eight defendants, not identified by name in today’s press conference. Five of those defendants were not named in May’s indictment.

In response to the arrests, FIFA released a statement declaring their intent to cooperate with American and Swiss authorities:

FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.

The 16 new indictments name Napout, Hawit as well as:

  • former Panama federation president Ariel Alvarado;
  • former president of Honduras Rafael Callejas;
  • Guatemalan federation president Brayan Jiménez;
  • former FIFA executive committee member Rafael Salguero (Guatemala);
  • Guatemala federation general secretary Héctor Trujillo;
  • El Salvador federation president Reynaldo Vasquez;
  • CONMEBOL director Manuel Burga (Peru);
  • Bolivia federation president Carlos Chávez;
  • Ecuador federation president Luís Chiriboga;
  • Brazil federation president Marco Polo del Nero;
  • former CONMEBOL general secretary Eduardo Deluca (Argentina);
  • CONMEBOL general secretary José Luis Meiszner (Argentina);
  • former CONMEBOL treasurer Romer Osuna (Bolivia);
  • former Brazil federation president Ricardo Teixeira.

According to the New York Times, the indictments allege “bribes and kickbacks” in various criminal schemes, with the DOJ’s jurisdiction derived from the defendants’ use of the US banking system. The indictment also claims that Hawit and former Traffic Sports USA president Aaron Davidson, previously indicted, attempted to cover up illegal activity once they knew they were being targeted by law enforcement.

“Anyone who seeks to return soccer to its old ways does a disservice to the integrity of this beautiful sport,” Lynch said. “The Department of Justice is committed to ending the rampant corruption we have described, not only because of the scale of the schemes, with the brazenness and the threat to all operations necessary to sustain such corruption, but also because of the affront to international principles it represents.”

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