Payments cloaked as car names
NEW YORK (AP):
Payments to the head of Peruvian football were masked under the name 'Fiat'. Money for Paraguay's boss was listed as 'Honda'. Excel spreadsheets detailed the cloak-and-dagger recording system of money given to 'Benz', 'VW', 'Toyota', 'Kia', and 'Peugeot', among others, including a pair of payments labelled 'Q2022' that appeared to be related to the FIFA executive committee's 2010 vote giving Qatar rights to host the 2022 World Cup.
"We basically decided to make up fantasy names for each of the people involved," sports marketing executive Santiago Pena testified yesterday as the trial of three high-ranking football executives entered its second week at federal court in Brooklyn.
Pena worked for Full Play Group, a company based in Argentina that won marketing rights to South American World Cup qualifiers and the Copa America and Copa Libertatores tournaments.
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, a father and son who are Full Play's controlling principals, were indicted along with many top football executives in 2015 by US prosecutors. The father and son have not been extradited thus far.
Pena testified that he took the ledger from Full Play's office on a thumb drive along with a stack of documents shortly after the first indictments were unsealed in May 2015, and kept the evidence at his home for two years before turning it over the American prosecutors.
Juan Angel Napout, the ex-president of Paraguay's soccer federation; Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil's football federation; and Manuel Burga, the ex-head of Peru's football federation; are on trial for racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
Rafael Esquivel, the former president of Venezuelan soccer, was nicknamed 'Benz' and his ledger listed a $750,000 payment owed for 'Q2022'. He pleaded guilty in November 2016 to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy.
Luis Chiriboga, the former president of Ecuadorean soccer, was nicknamed 'Toyota' and his ledger listed a $500,000 payment owed for 'Q2022'. He was convicted in his own country in November 2016 of money laundering.
Neither Esquivel nor Chiriboga was on the FIFA executive committee that made Qatar the 2022 World Cup host. M. Kristen Mace, the assistant US attorney questioning Pena, did not ask whether the payments were to be redirected to others.
Other nicknames included 'VW' for Carlos Chavez of Bolivia, 'Honda' for Napout, 'Fiat' for Burga, 'Flemic', for Luis Bedoya of Colombia, 'Kia' for Sergio Jadue of Chile and 'Peugeot' for Jose Meiszner, the former general secretary of the South American governing body CONMEBOL.