27 April 2017

CONMEBOL publishes details of suspicious bank transfers totalling $129 million

The Latin American football confederation (CONMEBOL) has published details of US$129 million in suspicious bank transfers following an audit of its accounts commissioned from Ernst & Young. The first table lists $10.4 million transferred into the personal bank account of former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz over a five year period (2000/2005).

The second table lists $16.5 million in bank transfers made either to the account of NL Stevia S.A. or to a Banco do Brasil account held by Leoz. “It is striking that this bank did not at least report these transactions as suspicious”, Daniel Mendonca, CONMEBOL’s Legal Counsel, who presented the audit’s conclusions to CONMEBOL’s annual Congress.

The third table lists $33.3 million in unidentified bank transfers, and the fourth table lists $58 million in payments to companies under investigation in the US for alleged bribery, fraud and money laundering. The fifth table lists instructions for third parties for $10.4 million in payments to companies that are being investigated by the US for alleged bribery, fraud and money laundering.

The move to publish the bank transfers was welcomed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “The documents that are before us today are proof of transparency”, he told the Congress in his opening speech. “Now we have to concentrate on the future, we have to prove that we are transparent, that we are open. We must congratulate this new CONMEBOL, to have this new spirit and this new way of working.”

An indictment published by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) listed Nicolás Leoz as one of 14 defendants. It accused Hugo and Mariano Jinkis of setting up a joint company with Traffic Group called Datisa, which it alleges paid bribes in order to secure football TV contracts in Latin America.

‘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 100th anniversary of  the first edition of the Copa America’, reads the 20 May 2015 indictment. ‘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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