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Another FIFA honcho pleads guilty in U.S. bribe sweep

The former president of the Guatemalan soccer federation pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn Friday for taking bribes in exchange for awarding contracts for the media and marketing rights to FIFA World Cup qualifier matches.

Brayan Jiménez held his post in Guatemala from 2009 to 2015.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.

In exchange for the bribes, he also authorized certain friendly matches played by the Guatemalan national soccer team. 

Jiménez, 62, is a Guatemala national.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. No date for sentencing has been set.

He agreed to forfeit $350,000 as part of his plea deal. 

The DOJ said,

Jiménez negotiated and accepted bribes of hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for his agreement to exercise his influence to award contracts to Media World, a Florida sports marketing company, for the media and marketing rights to the Guatemalan national soccer team’s home World Cup qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup. 

For several years, Media World sent bribes from its U.S. bank accounts to Jiménez and a co-conspirator, often using intermediaries in the United States and Guatemala.

The DOJ has charged 42 defendants in the FIFA corruption prosecution. About 16 defendants have pleaded guilty, according to public records.

Under a 92-count superseding indictment unsealed in December, most of the defendants were charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies.

In December last year, the DOJ executed a search warrant at Media World’s offices in Miami.

In April, a former FIFA vice president and executive committee member pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan Monday to taking bribes to award media and marketing rights to FIFA World Cup qualifier matches and CONCACAF tournaments.

Alfredo Hawit, 64, a citizen of Honduras, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Starting in 2008, Hawit took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Media World.

Also in April, the former president of Honduras who led the Honduran soccer federation from 2002 to 2015 pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to two conspiracy counts of racketeering and wire fraud.

Rafael Callejas, 72, took bribes from Media World.

He was the president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

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