NEW YORK: A United States subsidiary of the sports rights giant MediaPro is the latest company to have been snared in the FIFAGate football corruption investigation.
A statement from the US Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of New York announced that a Florida-based company now known as US Imagina had pleaded guilty to fraud charges and committed to pay fines and restitution of more than $24m.
US Imagina was known previously as MediaWorld and according to court papers, is majority-owned by Imagina Media Audiovisual of Barcelona “which is also known as MediaPro.”
The company had pleaded guilty over two senior executives’ involvement in paying $6.5m in bribes to senior officials of the Caribbean Football Union and four Central American federations for rights to World Cup qualifying matches.
Imagina US, in a plea-bargain deal, agreed to forfeit $5,279,000 in criminal proceeds and was sentenced to make restitution payments of $3m to the CFU, $1.7m to the Honduran FA, $790,000 to the Guatemalan FA, $600,000 to the Costa Rican FA and $565,000 to the El Salvador FA.
Imagina US was also fined $12,883,320 which Imagina Media agreed to pay to avoid prosecution.
IRS agent R Damon Rowe said: “Today’s guilty plea is a clear demonstration of [our] continued commitment to dismantling the corruption that has plagued the world of international soccer.”
Football officials named as recipients of the bribes included former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, who had been president of CONCACAF, as well as regional executives Roger Huguet, Fabio Tordin, Miguel Trujillo, Costas Takkas, Rafael Callejas, Brayan Jiménez, Héctor Trujillo, Eduardo Li and Alfredo Hawit.
Takkas was a close associate and aide to Webb while Hawit was another former president of CONCACAF.
Webb and most of the other South and central American football executives detained in the case still await sentence.