News 31st July 2015

CONMEBOL announces anti-corruption reforms

The Latin American football confederation, CONMEBOL, published a four-page document on 29 July providing details of the anti-corruption reforms agreed at a 24 July meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia during the 2018 World Cup finals draw. An external Director of Conformity and Compliance will be appointed to oversee implementation of the reform programme.

The reforms (PDF above) include publishing audited accounts and the salaries of the confederation’s senior staff – including the President – on the CONMEBOL internet site. It also includes a review of all commercial ties with bodies linked to criminal activities in connection with the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) 47-count indictment against FIFA and business officials. It pledged to sign no contracts with individuals facing legal charges.

The US has formally asked Switzerland to extradite former CONMEBOL President, Eugenio Figueredo and Rafael Esquivel, a former CONMEBOL Executive Committee member. Another former CONMEBOL President, Nicolás Leoz, was not arrested in Switzerland as he was not in Zurich for the re-election of Joseph S. Blatter as FIFA President on 28 May. However, he featured on an Interpol Red Notice issued on 3 June, which informs countries that an arrest warrant have been issued against an individual.

That Red Notice also featured four of the five remaining individuals indicted by the DoJ, all of whom worked for companies understood to have links to Latin American football. They are:

• Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling Principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
• Hugo and Mariano Jinkis: Controlling Principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
• José Margulies: Controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd.

The fifth individual, Aaron Davidson, is President of Traffic Sports USA Inc. In June, he pleaded not guilty to a number of charges in a Brooklyn Federal Court, reported the New York Daily News.

The DoJ indictment alleges that Burzaco and the two Jinkis brothers entered into a contract with Brazilian businessman José Hawilla’s Traffic Group to secure the rights to CONMEBOL tournaments. ‘Co-Conspirator #2 and the defendants Alejandro Burzaco, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis caused their respective companies to join together and form a new entity known as Datisa’, read the indictment (PDF below). ‘Following creation of this entity, Datisa entered into a $317.5 million contract with CONMEBOL to obtain the exclusive worldwide rights to the 2015, 2019, and 2023 editions of the Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a tournament to celebrate the lOOth anniversary of  the first edition of the Copa America […] In connection with the acquisition of the media rights to the Copa America and Centenario tournaments from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, Datisa agreed to pay $110 million in bribes to the defendants Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin, and Nicolás Leoz, and several other soccer officials. Datisa agreed to make these payments at various times over the life of the contracts. At least $40 million has been paid to date.’

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