A former executive of the 21st Century Fox television group faces 40 years in prison in the United States after being found guilty Thursday by a New York court of corruption of South American football leaders, an offshoot of the “Fifagate” scandal.
After nearly two months of trial in federal court in Brooklyn, Hernan Lopez was found guilty of fraud, laundering and paying bribes to FIFA and FIFA Confederation executives. South America (Conmebol), according to a press release from the American justice.
An Argentinian marketing company, Full Play, was also convicted on the same charges, but found to be a corporate entity corrupting officials of the Confederation of North, Central and Caribbean American Football (Concacaf).
It was a question of obtaining the television broadcasting rights of the Copa Libertadores and of meetings, friendly and qualifying, of national teams of the Americas for international competitions.
“Today’s verdict sounds like a victory for justice and football fans around the world. The defendants cheated by corrupting football officials, acting for their own greedy interests rather than the best interests of the sport,” said federal prosecutor for the New York federal jurisdiction of Brooklyn, Breon Peace.
During the debates, the Argentine businessman Alejandro Burzaco had testified as a witness after pleading guilty to involvement in this corruption scandal that splashed FIFA in 2015 under the Sepp Blatter era.
He had accused Hernan Lopez and his colleague at 21 th Century Fox, Carlos Martinez, of having paid between “30 and 32 million dollars” in bribes.
If Carlos Martinez was acquitted, Hernan Lopez risks being sentenced at a later date to “40 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines”, according to the Brooklyn court. Full Play also incurs a financial fine of millions of dollars.
Prosecution witness Alejandro Burzaco claimed in court in January that bribes had been budgeted to the tune of $60 million, but the 2015 FIFAgate bust halted the payouts.