Soccer Outfit Slaps Ex-Heads With $20M Fraud Suit

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Two men embroiled in the sprawling FIFA corruption scandal now face a federal fraud complaint from one of soccer’s international governing bodies.

Concacaf, short for the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football, brought its lawsuit Tuesday against its former president, Austin “Jack” Warner, and its former general secretary, Charles “Chuck’ Blazer.

The complaint was filed U.S. District Court in Eastern New York, the same court where Warner, Blazer and many others were named in a 2013 indictment that described a $150 million, 24-year racketeering scheme.

While Blazer negotiated a secret plea deal in November 2013, Warner faces extradition from his home country, Trinidad and Tobago.

Months before Blazer entered that plea, Concacaf excoriated the duo for mismanagement in a detailed report.

Expounding on these allegations in the federal complaint, Concacaf accuses Blazer and Warner of having negotiated lucrative broadcasting rights for tournaments including the 2010 Gold Cup, a biennial regional championship for national teams.

As members of FIFA’s executive committee, Blazer and Warner also accepted a $10 million bribe from South Africa to vote for it host the 2010 World Cup, according to the complaint.

Blazer, a larger-than-life character who looked like Santa Claus and traveled with his pet Macaw on his shoulder, was the only American to ever serve on FIFA’s executive committee.

For over 20 years, according to the complaint, Blazer funneled Concacag funds to his entities and then paid the money back out to himself and Warner. Concacaf accuses the pair of having “used their influence in the world of football to extract bribes from media rights companies and to pilfer funds belonging to Concacaf.”

And even though both Warner and Blazer resigned from Concacaf at the end of 2011, the group says “it was never disclosed or discovered, until May 27, 2015, the date the indictment was unsealed, that Warner and Blazer actively solicited and received bribes in connection with their roles at Concacaf, and as part of the scheme continued to ‘promote and conceal [his] receipt of bribes and kickbacks,’ as Blazer stated in his allocution.”

Concacaf says Blazer accrued millions of dollars in commissions and fees through marketing and broadcast deals that Concacaf’s executive committee did not authorize under the contracts Blazer’s companies had with the organization. To the complaint says Blazer obfuscated the total amount of his unauthorized compensation for the elaborate kickback scheme by funneling them through several entities and varying payment amounts.

Saying Blazer also misused assets, Concacaf points to his three Trump Tower apartments, including one for this girlfriend and her children. At some point one of the apartments was used to house Blazer’s cats. He also bought two apartments at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel Residences in May 2010 and caused Concacag to spend $1.4 million on an apartment at the Atlantis Paradise Resort in the Bahamas, according to the complaint.

Concacaf says the funds Blazer used to purchase that apartment were “intended for the development programs for football, not to support Blazer’s luxurious personal lifestyle.”

Funding by Concacaf also allegedly bought Blazer a 2004 Hummer H2 vehicle in June 2005 for $48,554, and settled $29 million in expenses on Blazer’s American Express account from 2004 through 2011.

The complaint says that Warner, as the highest ranking official in the organization, knew what was happening, but did nothing to stop Blazer and instead benefitted from his bad behavior. Blazer was credited with getting Warner elected president of Concacaf, and he named Blazer general secretary.

Sportvertising, En Passant Inc., and Multisport Games Development are a few of the companies named as co-defendants to the lawsuit.

Concacaf seeks “not less than $20 million” in damages. It is represented by John Kuster of Sidley Austin in Manhattan.

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