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Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Ex-banker pleads guilty to U.S. charge in Federation Internationale de Football Association probe

Ex-banker pleads guilty to U.S. charge in Federation Internationale de Football Association probe

Swiss and United States law enforcement officials have been working together to investigate and prosecute alleged corruption in world football which has resulted in the downfall of numerous officials with connections to FIFA, the world governing body.

Michael Lauber's office confirmed the scale of "football-related cases" after securing a first conviction since its FIFA investigations began in 2014.

While the Swiss declined to name the man in this case, Jorge Arzuaga, who had worked at Julius Baer Group Ltd., pleaded guilty and told a federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday that he was "deeply sorry" for his role in a plot to funnel at least $25 million in bribes from an Argentinian sports-marketing company to soccer officials including Julio Grondona, once a senior vice-president of Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Jorge Arzuaga, 56, of Argentina, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in the Brooklyn borough of NY as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

That president, who died in 2014, is indentified in court papers only as Soccer Official #1, and Arzuaga arranged for those funds to be distributed to his heirs after his death.

Lauber's office said Arzuaga forfeited $650,000 (£508,886) in "unlawfully obtained" bonuses to the Swiss treasury.

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Argentina's Jorge Arzuaga, who worked in Zurich for Credit Suisse and Julius Baer Group, told US District Judge Pamela Chen that he managed a web of fraudulent bank accounts that concealed bribes.

"By facilitating the flow of bribe money through the Swiss and American banking systems, the defendant provided a critical service to those involved in corruption in global soccer", Rohde said in a statement.

Arzuaga has also been investigated by Swiss authorities, who are expected to announce a resolution of their own charges against him soon.

Alejandro Burzaco, pleaded guilty to U.S. bribery charges in 2015 after surrendering to authorities in Italy and has had $21 million seized by USA authorities. He was already identifiable in the U.S. indictments as one of the Fifa and South American football executives accused of pocketing multimillions of dollars in bribes, but Arzuaga's guilty plea adds substantial detail to the accusations.

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