Two former 21st Century Fox corporation senior executives have been indicted over their alleged role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe FIFA officials in exchange for broadcast and marketing rights to the world’s most-watched football tournaments.
Hernan Lopez, former chief executive of Fox International Channels and Carlos Martinez, former president of Fox Latin America, are charged with wire fraud and money laundering.
The 53-page indictment accuses the pair of having “relied on loyalty secured through the payment of bribes” to South American football officials in order to “advance the business interest of Fox” and obtain “confidential bidding information” to win American broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
#BREAKING: Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unveiled new charges in the FIFA corruption probe, including against 2 former FOX marketing execs. Prosecutors say their involvement helped them "obtain confidential bidding" info for U.S. rights to 2018, 2022 World Cups, which FOX won.— Zach Zagger (@ZachZagger) April 6, 2020
Lopez and Martinez are further alleged to have paid annual bribes to South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) officials to gain exclusive broadcast rights to Copa Libertadores, the highest level of competition in South American club football
Two Conmebol officials involved in the scheme, allegedly in conjunction with Lopez and Martinez, were found guilty of accepting millions in bribes during a December 2017 trial. The pair are scheduled for arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn 9th April and face up to 20 years in prison.
The new FIFA case charges detail $32.46 million in payments over just 2 months in 2015 from "Fox Latin American Channel, Inc.'s account" as part of a bribery scheme to secure Copa Libertadores rights. That's out of 15-years of bribes— Ken Bensinger (@kenbensinger) April 7, 2020
2 Fox execs were charged but not the company pic.twitter.com/DFrFT8LjnD
Also indicted was Gerard Romy, former chief executive of Spanish media company Imagina. Romy is accused of participating in schemes to pay millions of dollars to high-ranking officials of the Caribbean Football Union and federations within the Central American Football Union, both regional soccer unions operating under the CONCACAF umbrella, to secure media and marketing rights to FIFA World Cup qualifier matches organised by federations within the two organisations. Romy and his co-conspirators allegedly agreed to pay Jeffrey Webb, senior CFU official and CONCACAF president, a US$3 million bribe in exchange for a share of a contract awarding the media and marketing rights to CFU members’ home World Cup qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 qualification cycles.
“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades. These men, along with the general public, have known the FBI Nnd our many law enforcement partners are investigating the illicit handshakes and backroom deals hidden in the infrastructure of soccer events, venues and marketing contracts. The first public charges date back to 2015. This should illustrate to everyone still hoping to score millions corruptly, we're going to find you,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney.