Wednesday, October 28, 2020

FIFA banned ex-Brazilian soccer chief for taking millions of dollars in bribes

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FIFA banned Brazilian soccer official Ricardo Teixeira for life on Friday for taking millions of dollars in bribes, four years after he was indicted by American federal prosecutors.

In an overdue judgment by the FIFA ethics committee, Teixeira was found guilty of taking bribes linked to commercial contracts for South American competitions from 2006-12.

Teixeira was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1.3 million Cdn), but it is unclear how FIFA can enforce payment.

The ban cuts formal ties to soccer for the 72-year-old Teixeira, who resigned from the FIFA executive committee in 2012 ahead of being formally implicated in a decade-old World Cup kickback scandal.

Teixeira became identified with an era of corruption linked to FIFA during the long presidencies of Joao Havelange, his former father-in-law, and Sepp Blatter.

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In December 2015, Teixeira was named in a sweeping indictment unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice that detailed racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges. He has evaded extradition to the United States, where he kept a home in Florida.

Teixeira cited health reasons seven years ago when he left the executive committee. He also stepped down from organizing the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Also in 2012, longstanding allegations were confirmed that Teixeira and Havelange took seven-figure kickbacks from the ISL agency which marketed World Cup broadcasting contracts.

A Swiss supreme court ruling ended years of secrecy about the case. It led FIFA to publish a document detailing a 2010 agreement for Teixeira and Havelange to repay $2.5 million and $500,000, respectively, to close a criminal prosecution.

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At a FIFA ethics committee hearing in July, investigators presented evidence from the U.S. federal case that Teixeira took bribes linked to commercial deals for the Copa America, Copa Libertadores and Brazil’s national cup competition.

The FIFA ruling states Teixeira banked his bribes “in Middle East, in far Asia, in Andorra, in Europe, and always with beneficial owners that were very common names in Chinese or in each region, which was impossible to know who it was.”

His lawyers countered that “Teixeira vehemently denies all charges, which are no more than assumptions made by U.S. attorneys, without any evidence to support the indictment.”

FIFA dismissed the defence, noting “bribe payments and promises of such payments of several million dollars, money which could otherwise have been invested into the development of football in Brazil and South America.”

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