A US judge has released transcripts of the guilty please made by three defendants in the Fifa probe that rocked football in June 2015.
Former Fifa vice president Jeffrey Webb, Argentinian-Italian marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco and Brazilian intermediary Jose Margulies pleaded guilty last year to corruption, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
The three men said they regretted their actions and suggested that bribes were common practice within the sports broadcasting industry. All three will be sentenced for corruption in New York in June.
“I abused my position to obtain bribes and kickbacks for my personal benefit,” said Webb, who pleaded guilty to seven charges.
He said he was told in 2012 that sports marketing companies would offer “side payments” or bribes in exchange for commercial rights to matches.
“I believed that such offers were common in this business,” he told the judge.
He confessed to receiving bribes for the sale of commercial rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, and in 2012, 2013 and 2014, including for the Copa America Centenario tournament, which will be held in June.
“I deeply regret my participation in this illegal conduct,” he added.
Webb also confessed to conspiring to defraud his employers and conspiracy to commit money laundering offences by transferring money from the United States to accounts in Panama, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.
Burzaco, 51, the former chairman of the board of Torneos y Competencias SA, an Argentine sports marketing company, also expressed regret for his conduct.
“I was wrong,” he said, confessing to paying bribes and kickbacks amounting tens of millions of dollars to a number of officials, in exchange for broadcasting rights.
“Torneos and I profited from these payments directly and indirectly by securing these rights,” he said.
In a letter to the US attorney’s office, Fifa’s lawyers requested an “immediate” audit of Webb’s funds and assets, expressing concern that he may not have fully disclosed them to the court.
Fifteen individuals have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with US prosecutors in exchange for a possible reduction in sentence.
Guilty pleas have been entered by:
Alejandro Burzaco, Rafael Callejas, Alfredo Hawit, Jose Margulies and Jeffrey Webb,
Not guilty pleas have been submitted by:
Aaron Davidson, Rafael Esquivel, Brayan Jimenez, Eduardo Li, Jose Maria Marin, Juan Angel Napout, Costas Takkas and Hector Trujillo.
Sentencing dates for early guilty pleas are awaited for:
Daryll Warner, Daryan Warner, Charles ‘Chuck’ Blazer, Jose Hawilla, Zorana Danis, Fabio Tordin, Luis Bedoya, Sergio Jadue, Roger Huguet and Miguel Trujillo.