NEW YORK: Alfredo Hawit, former president of central and north American confederation CONCACAF, has pleaded guilty in Brooklyn to four conspiracy charges concerning high-level football in the Americas.

The lawyer from Honduras was a vice-president of world football federation FIFA when he detained by Swiss police in Zurich last December on an extradition warrant from the United States Department of Justice.

Hawit is one of 42 individuals and corporations indicted over the $200m FIFAGate bribery and corruption case concerning misuse of commercial and broadcast rights to national team and club tournaments.

He is currently living in the Miami area with his daughter and his grandson on $1m bail.

The 64-year-old pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He also agreed to forfeit $950,000 as part of his plea agreement.

In court Hawit admitted in court to having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from two sports marketing companies that were seeking media rights for football matches and tournaments.

Hawitt, who faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, said: “I knew it was wrong for me to accept such undisclosed payments.”

Full Play involvement

The prosecution claims that indictment alleged that executives of Argentina’s Full Play Group SA¬†agreed to pay Hawit $250,000 in bribes in a failed bid from 2011 to 2012 to secure CONCACAF marketing rights.

In court, Hawit said while serving as FENAFUTH’s general secretary, he also beginning in 2008 received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes from Miami-based Media World for the rights to 2014, 2018, and 2022 World Cup qualifier matches.

The monies were channelled through bank accounts that he and his family controlled in Panama and Honduras.

Hawit said that, after the original indictment in the case was opened in May 2015, he advised a co-conspirator to create sham contracts “to mask the true nature of the bribe money” and to deceive law enforcement about the payments.

So far 15 people and two sports marketing companies have pleaded guilty and prosecutors have indicated that many other defendants are currently involved in plea bargain negotiations.

At least eight defendants in the US have pleaded not guilty and a trial date is expected to be scheduled later this week.

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