Corruption plot thickens
NEW YORK (AP):
Fox Sports partnered with a South American marketing firm to make millions of dollars in bribes to high-ranking football officials in exchange for lucrative broadcasting rights to major tournaments, the marketing company's former CEO testified yesterday at a US corruption trial.
Alejandro Burzaco, former CEO of the firm based in Argentina, testified that Fox and other broadcasters were involved in a scheme to pay bribes concealed using offshore side entities and sham contracts that secured rights for the Copa America and other events.
As evidence of the scheme, prosecutors at the trial at a federal court in New York City produced a 2008 agreement for the partnership to pay US$3.7 million to a holding company in Turks and Caicos that was an alleged conduit for the bribes. They say it was signed by a former Fox executive.
Asked whom he kept informed about the bribe arrangements, Burzaco responded, "Fox Pan American Sports. Fox Sports."
Through the bribes, the network "gained leverage and rights to broadcast its signal to Argentina" and other parts of the world, he added.
Last year, a Florida-based football network that repeatedly lost out on the television rights to tournaments that Fox Sports aired had made similar bribery allegations against Fox in a pending federal lawsuit.
Fox Sports didn't immediately reply to a request for comment on yesterday's testimony.
Burzaco said other media businesses, including Televisa, Media Pro, TV Globo, Full Play Argentina, and Traffic had all paid bribes for rights as well. In a statement, Globo vehemently denied making bribes and said it was willing to cooperate with US authorities.