NEW YORK: Costas Takkas, one of the remaining FIFAGate defendants, has changed his plea to guilty writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Takkas had been a close associate and aide to Jeffrey Webb, the former president of central and north American confederation CONCACAF; Webb was one of the seven senior football executives arrested on May 27, 2015, in Zurich on the eve of FIFA Congress.
More than half of the 42 individuals and companies indicted over a $200m bribery, fraud and money-laundering racket in football in the Americas have struck plea bargains with the United States Department of Justice.
However until an announcement in a federal court in Brooklyn Takkas, a British passport-holder, was among five defendants still set to go stand trial in November on multiple charges. The others are Brazilian Jose Maria Marin, Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout, Peruvian Manuel Burga and Guatemalan Hector Trujillo.
Court documents have stated that Takkas’s guilty plea was announced by Bridget M Rohde (Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York) together with other agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
The Takkas involves his role, along with Webb and executives of the Traffic USA marketing company, in distributing $3m in bribes through various dummy companies.
Takkas has pleaded guilty to “money-laundering conspiracy in connection with his receipt and transmission of millions of dollars in bribes paid to . . . Webb.”
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Last month Takkas and the four innocence-plea defendants had applied for the cases to be heard separately out of concern over what was described as cross-contamination of evidence. This application has now been rejected.
The FIFAGate indictment runs to 236 pages in outlining 92 crimes in 15 corruption schemes over 24 years concerning more than $200m in bribes and kickbacks. Prosecutors are preparing 350,000 documents to be entered in evidence.
Of the 40 accused, more than 20 have pleaded guilty with sentencing due to start next month though further delays are likely.