The Department of Justice announced today a further distribution of approximately $92 million in compensation for losses suffered by FIFA, the world organizing body of soccer; CONCACAF, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in North and Central America, among other jurisdictions; CONMEBOL, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in South America; and various constituent national soccer federations (collectively, the “Victims”).
The funds, which were remitted following the Justice Department’s recognition of losses and grant of remission up to a total of $201 million in August 2021, were 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 and the laundering of those payments.
“From the beginning of the FIFA investigation and prosecutions, one of the department’s primary goals has been to make the victims whole,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department has used every tool at its disposal to make this a reality, while depriving the perpetrators of the proceeds of their crimes. This distribution of approximately $92 million as compensation for losses suffered highlights the importance of asset forfeiture as a critical tool in this endeavor.”
“Today’s distribution of more than $80 million underscores our commitment to returning money obtained through the corruption and fraud prosecuted in this case to the victims of that corruption, where it will be used to benefit the sport,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “Over much of the past decade, this investigation and prosecution has concentrated on bringing wrongdoers to justice and recovering ill-gotten gains. Our office, working in collaboration with our law enforcement partners and colleagues in the Department of Justice, will continue our work to compensate victims of crime.”
“There was an extraordinary amount of money flowing between corrupt officials and businesses in this massive scheme,” said Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “It is gratifying to know assets seized from the criminals involved will be distributed to groups in need of the money, one specifically focused on educating and safeguarding football for women and girls. The silver lining is that some good will come from the rampant greed uncovered in this investigation.”
“As the distributions to victims have demonstrated, IRS-CI and our law enforcement partners will leave no stones unturned when it comes to conducting investigations involving financial crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Los Angeles. “Not only have dozens of individuals been brought to justice through the course of the investigation, but the additional $92 million will be returned in full to the victims to help compensate them for the injuries caused by this corruption.”
On May 27, 2015, an indictment was unsealed charging 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing executives with racketeering, honest services wire fraud and money laundering offenses, among others. On Dec. 3, 2015, a superseding indictment was unsealed charging an additional 16 FIFA officials with similar crimes. During the course of the prosecutions, 27 individual defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in the charged crimes. In December 2017, two former FIFA officials, Juan Ángel Napout, of Paraguay, and José Maria Marin, of Brazil, were convicted after trial of racketeering conspiracy and related offenses. Four corporate entities have pleaded guilty and others, including banks, have acknowledged their roles in criminal conduct through deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements.
As part of these proceedings, many of the defendants were ordered to forfeit assets obtained through their criminal activity. Under federal law, the Department of Justice has the authority to distribute the proceeds of forfeited assets through the remission process to victims of crimes, including to the soccer organizations that employed and were defrauded by the corrupt soccer executives.
FIFA, CONCACAF, and CONMEBOL have committed to distributing funds received through the remission process, including $32.3 million previously remitted in August 2021, to and through a newly created World Football Remission Fund (the “Fund”) focused on women’s/girl’s football (soccer), education, safeguarding, youth programs, community outreach, and humanitarian needs. The Fund has been established under the FIFA Foundation, an independent foundation that uses soccer, and sport in general, as a tool for social development. The terms of the Fund provide for oversight and independent audit measures to ensure remitted funds are distributed appropriately.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze, M. Kristin Mace, Victor A. Zapana, Brian D. Morris, and Kaitlin T. Farrell are in charge of the prosecution, petition, solicitation, and providing recommendations on the victims’ petitions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren H. Elbert and Trial Attorney Christian Nauvel and former Trial Attorney Michael Grady of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section joined in the investigation and prosecution of the banks.
The Justice Department, through the Asset Forfeiture Program, works diligently to restore lost funds to victims of crime. The victim compensation payments in the FIFA case would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, which reviewed and approved the victims’ petition for remission; the FBI’s New York Field Office; and the IRS-CI.