- Title: Ex-Venezuela soccer official pleads guilty in U.S. bribery case
- Date: 10th November 2016
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 10, 2016) (REUTERS) FEDERAL COURTHOUSE IN BROOKLYN FORMER VENEZUELA FOOTBALL FEDERATION PRESIDENT, RAFAEL ESQUIVEL, ARRIVING WITH HIS LEGAL TEAM TO PLEAD GUILTY TO FIFA CORRUPTION CHARGES
- Embargoed: 25th November 2016 17:12
- Keywords: FIFA corruption investigation soccer football Sepp Blatter Rafael Esquivel
- Location: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / CARACAS AND MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA
- City: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / CARACAS AND MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA
- Country: USA
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA00157V51ZB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A former president of Venezuela's soccer federation pleaded guilty on Thursday (November 10) to U.S. charges stemming from a wide-ranging bribery investigation involving FIFA, the sport's world governing body.
Rafael Esquivel, who was also vice president of South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL, entered his plea in federal court in Brooklyn to charges that he received bribes to award contracts for the media and marketing rights to international tournaments.
Esquivel, 70, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering conspiracy and also agreed to forfeit more than $16 million (USD).
"Esquivel used his influence as a soccer official to obtain millions of dollars in bribe payments from co-conspirators who sent the payments from overseas banks accounts into accounts Esquivel controlled," U.S. prosecutors said in a statement.
Lawyers for Esquivel, a former president of the Federacion Venezuelan de Futbol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count. His sentencing hearing will be set at a later date, according to the court docket.
Esquivel is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation that upended Zurich-based FIFA and the soccer world.
To date, 19 people and two companies have pleaded guilty in connection with the probe.
Prosecutors said the defendants engaged in more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks that were sought and received by soccer officials for marketing and broadcasting rights to tournaments and matches.
Esquivel was among seven soccer officials arrested at a luxury hotel in Switzerland in May 2015, as the U.S. Justice Department announced the case.
He was extradited to the United States in March and had been one of six defendants who were set to face trial in November 2017.
According to prosecutors, Esquivel admitted on Thursday to bribery schemes to market South America's premier tournament, the Copa Libertadores, as well as the Copa America, which featured national teams from the region.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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