A former banker has pleaded guilty to a United States money laundering conspiracy charge in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal.
Argentina’s Jorge Arzuaga, who worked in Zurich for Credit Suisse and Julius Baer Group, told US District Judge Pamela Chen that he managed a web of fraudulent bank accounts that concealed bribes.
The 56-year-old entered his guilty plea in a Federal Court in New York City borough Brooklyn as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
“I deeply regret what I did,” Arzuaga said in court.
“I am ashamed.”
Arzuaga admitted that starting in 2010, he helped arrange payments from an executive at Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias to the President of the Argentine Football Association, Julio Grondona.
Grondona, a one-time FIFA senior vice-president, died in 2014.
Arzuaga said he was aware money deposited in the accounts was being used to bribe football officials, who had control over lucrative marketing rights.
He collected approximately $1,046,000 in improper payments, according to prosecutors, in return for channeling the bribes through accounts he had set up at two banks where he worked.
Arzuaga, who was an employee of Credit Suisse until 2012 and at Julius Baer from 2012 until 2015, agreed to forfeit that amount as part of the guilty plea agreement.
He was freed on a $1.5 million bond with his sentencing scheduled for January 4.
”By facilitating the flow of bribe money through the Swiss and American banking systems, the defendant provided a critical service to those involved in corruption in international soccer,” acting US attorney Bridget Rohde said in a statement.
It was confirmed in January that Torneos y Competencias, one of the companies implicated in the ongoing investigation into widespread corruption at FIFA, agreed to pay a total of $112.8 million to settle charges.
The Argentine-based entity forfeited $89 million and paid a $23.76 million penalty as a result of their one count of wire fraud conspiracy.
The former head of the company, Alejandro Burzaco, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in 2015.
Torneos y Competencias, founded in 1982 and whose headquarters are in Buenos Aires, reached the agreement with prosecutors at a hearing at the Federal Court in Brooklyn.
More than 40 officials and entities have been indicted on criminal charges in the US.
The corruption scandal led to the departure of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.