According to Bloomberg Business, a Colombian soccer consultant pleaded guilty to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to officials who awarded media and marketing rights, admitting he used sham contracts and Panamanian bank accounts to cover his tracks.
Miguel Trujillo, 65, entered his plea in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, where he was the 13th of 40 people charged to have admitted guilt in a U.S. crackdown on soccer corruption in the Americas. Prosecutors say soccer officials and business executives paid more than $200 million in bribes for media and marketing rights to tournaments, World Cup siting votes and elections at FIFA, the sport’s governing body.
In pleading guilty, Trujillo admitted paying bribes to help two marketing companies, Traffic Sports USA Inc. and Media World LLC, win rights to tournaments. Those events were staged by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, or Concacaf; regional soccer federations; and national federations in Central America and the Caribbean.
He and his co-conspirators “often used sham contracts and invoices in an effort to disguise the true nature of these transactions,” Trujillo said in court.
Trujillo’s admissions buttressed earlier guilty pleas by Traffic Group founder Jose Hawilla and former Traffic USA Chief Executive Officer Fabio Tordin; Media World’s former CEO, Roger Huguet; and Concacaf’s ex-president Jeffrey Webb. Trujillo said he conspired with those three and 10 others not identified by name in court documents.
Trujillo said he used several small companies he ran and Panamanian bank accounts to help move bribes through a labyrinth. One $80,000 payment moved from his company account at Multibank Inc. in Panama to a Bank of America Corp. correspondent account in New York to a Citigroup Inc. account in the name of a Caymanian lawyer, court documents show.
Trujillo, a legal permanent resident in Florida, was licensed by FIFA to negotiate and arrange matches between the sport’s national associations, according to a statement from Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers.
Trujillo pleaded guilty to one count of money-laundering conspiracy, two counts of wire-fraud conspiracy, and one count of filing a false tax return. He agreed to forfeit $495,000.
Trujillo’s attorney Joseph Steven Rosenbaum declined to comment after the hearing.
In a separate hearing, the former president of the Venezuelan soccer federation, Rafael Esquivel, made his first appearance in federal court. Esquivel was extradited from Switzerland, where he was one of seven soccer officials arrested last May.
He pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire-fraud conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy.
The case is U.S. v. Trujillo, 16-cr-108, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).