Prosecutors Net Money-Laundering Plea in FIFA Corruption Case

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – A Caribbean-based soccer official who helped the vice president of FIFA traded media and marketing rights for millions in bribes pleaded guilty Wednesday to money-laundering charges.

Before his arrest in 2015, Costas Takkas was general secretary of the Cayman Islands soccer federation. This outfit was a member of both FIFA and the Concacaf, short for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, and Takkas was the attache to one of the men at the head of these leagues, Jeffrey Webb.

Webb, the former vice president of FIFA and president of Concacaf, pleaded guilty back in 2015 but is still awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors noted Wednesday that Takkas, a 60-year-old British national, controlled the bank accounts Webb used to funnel money he was paid by two sports-marketing companies.

The companies, Traffic USA and Media World, paid Webb $3 million in bribes so that he would grant them the media and marketing rights to home World Cup qualifier matches played by Caribbean Football Union soccer teams during the 2018 and 2022 qualification cycle.

Prosecutors say Traffic USA funnel half of Webb’s $3 million bribe through front companies and accounts controlled by Takkas, and that Takkas distributed these funds at Webb’s direction.

Media World share of the bribe money was $1.5 million. Using a sham transaction involving a false invoice, it paid approximately $500,000 of this amount to accounts controlled by Takkas.

The government notes that Webb admitted to this scheme when he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other offenses in 2015.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen heard Takkas’ plea Wednesday in Brooklyn, where the sprawling FIFA-corruption prosecution has been based.

Takkas faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 19.

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