By Office of Public Affairs, Department of Justice
The Department of Justice announced today that it will begin the process of remitting forfeited funds to FIFA, the world organizing body of soccer; CONCACAF, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in North and Central America, among other regions; CONMEBOL, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in South America; and various constituent national soccer federations (collectively, the “Victims”). The department granted a joint petition for remission filed by the Victims, recognizing losses and granting remission up to a total of more than $201 million, of which $32.3 million in forfeited funds has been approved for an initial distribution. In total, well over the amount granted has been seized and has been or is expected to be forfeited to the United States in the Eastern District of New York as part of the government’s long-running investigation and prosecution of corruption in international soccer.
To date, the prosecutions have resulted in charges against more than 50 individual and corporate defendants from more than 20 countries, primarily in connection with the offer and receipt of bribes and kickbacks paid by sports marketing companies to soccer officials in exchange for the media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments and events.
This announcement is the beginning of the process for returning funds to the victims of the FIFA bribery scandal and marks the department’s continued commitment to ensuring justice for those victims harmed by this scheme.
“The approval of this remission of funds illegally obtained in the FIFA scandal marks another important milestone in these prosecutions and the department’s commitment to use all tools at its disposal to prosecute corruption and to deprive perpetrators of ill-gotten gains,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This remission highlights the importance of asset forfeiture as a critical tool for the recovery of criminal proceeds and the pursuit of justice.”
“Today’s announcement confirms that money stolen by corrupt soccer officials and sports marketing executives through fraud and greed will be returned to where it belongs and used to benefit the sport,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis for the Eastern District of New York. “From the start, this investigation and prosecution have been focused on bringing wrongdoers to justice and restoring ill-gotten gains to those who work for the benefit of the beautiful game. Our office, together with our law enforcement partners, will always work to compensate victims of crime.”
“Kickbacks and bribes have a way of spreading like a disease through corrupt groups; pure and simple greed keeps the graft going,” said Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Not one official in this investigation seemed to care about the damage being done to a sport that millions around the world revere. The only silver lining is the money will now help underprivileged people who need it, not the wealthy executives who just wanted it to get richer. Our work isn’t finished, and our promise to those who love the game – we won’t give up until everyone sees justice for what they’ve done.”
“For years, corrupt soccer officials and greedy sports marketing executives engaged in dozens of multimillion-dollar bribe and kickback schemes,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Ryan L. Korner of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “These individuals and companies lined their pockets with millions that were supposed to be used for the development and betterment of soccer worldwide. Agents with IRS-CI and their partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI relentlessly pursued this corruption and seized these ill-gotten gains. Now these funds can be used as they were intended, to promote and develop the world’s most popular game.”