United States officials have revealed a “staggering” network of bribery schemes relating to FIFA officials, including a current member of the Audit and Compliance Committee.
The country’s attorney general announced on Thursday that a further 16 officials, primarily from the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL member associations, had been charged with corruption following an extensive investigation.
Former CONCACAF presidents Jack Moran, Jeffrey Webb – who has forfeited $6.7million – and Alfredo Hawit are among the individuals, along with three consecutive presidents of South America’s governing body.
A current member of the Audit and Compliance Committee, the organisation in charge of financial accounting and transparency within FIFA, is also among those charged.
Eight of the individuals in question have already issued guilty pleas following the investigation, including Webb.
US Attorney Robert Capers said: “These officials were supposed to lead the confederations and FIFA itself with the fair advancement of the sport as a primary goal. The abuse of their positions of authority to enrich themselves, through bribes and kickbacks, they failed the institutions they were supposed to serve to satisfy their own greed.
“The 16 defendants charged include high-ranking FIFA officials in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. Those include Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout, the current presidents.
“Also included are the current former general secretaries of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. One of the men is alleged to have taken millions of dollars in bribes as treasurer of Conmebol. Amazingly, he is now a member of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee – one of FIFA’s sub-committees charged with developing reform proposals.
“Also included, the president of the soccer iterations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the current president of the Brazilian Soccer Federation, Marco Polo Del Nero.
“Finally, also charged are the former presidents of the soccer federations of Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.
“The defendants and their co-conspirators are alleged to have corrupted the enterprise by engaging in activities like fraud, bribery, and money laundering over the course of two generations. They did this primarily through kickbacks from sports marketing executives.
“Today’s superseding indictment also includes new details about the systematic payment of rights of sports marketing executives in six Central American member associations within CONCACAF.
“The numbers involved are staggering. Tens of millions. The bribe payers agreed to pay the officials between $400,000 and $600,000 per year, and, in some cases, up to $1m as long as those officials remained in office.
“Taken together, the defendants charged in the superceding indictment, along with those who have already pleaded guilty, represent nearly every country in Central and South America and occupy leadership roles in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL extending back over two decades.
“Three consecutive presidents of CONCACAF, Jack Moran, Jeffrey Webb and now Alfredo Hawit, and three consecutive presidents of CONMEBOL have been indicted on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, and related offences. All six are members of FIFA’s Executive Committee as well. These defendants controlled their federations for more than 25 years.
“By this indictment, we say not any more. All these defendants have accepted their actions through guilty pleas and extensive forfeiture. Others accepted culpability for criminal conduct before they were even charged, including the presidents of the Colombian and Chilean soccer federations.
“I hope the message is clear. We are progressing in our efforts to root out decades of systemic corruption. So, we say to you, enough is enough. If you are involved, or have the desire to partake, now is not the time to hold power or seek to gain power.
“Now is the time to step away and make room for a new generation of leaders who we hope will give soccer and its millions of fans the leadership they richly deserve.”