NEW YORK: The judge in the FIFAGate trial in New York has commented on the continuing ‘free’ status of Marco Polo del Nero at the head of the Brazilian football confederation even though he has been indicted in the $200m corruption case,
Judge Pamela Chen made her remark in response to defence submissions on behalf of Jose Maria Marin, Del Nero’s predecessor at the CBF and who is on trial with Juan Angel Napout (a Paraguayan ex-president of the South American governing body CONMEBOL) and Manuel Burga (former president of the Peru FA). All three deny wrongdoing.
Several prosecution witnesses had given evidence about million-dollar bribes paid to both Marín and Del Nero in exchange for television contracts and marketing of friendly matches and tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores and the Copa America.
Jim Mitchell, on behalf of Marin, has sought to paint his client as a mere bit player in the bribery schemes while questioning Steven Berryman, a US Treasury agent.
Berryman responded that FIFA, which had suspended Marin but taken no action against Del Nero, may have a mixed code of ethics.
Marin, 85, was arrested in Zurich on May 27, 2015, and has since been under house arrest in his apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue but Del Nero fled Switzerland that same day and has never subsequently left Brazil, from which he cannot be extradited
Judge Chen told Mitchell he had no right to draw inferences about why Del Nero continued in office. Having sent the jury out of the court, she noted: “Who knows what it means? Maybe Del Nero has friends in high places.”
The prosecution has claimed that Marín received $ 1.5m in bribes for the rights to the Copa América in 2013 and $500,000 for the Copa Libertadores in the same year, both payments deposited in the account of his Firelli company in New York.