Webb got $10m - witness
NEW YORK (AP):
A Brazilian businessman testified yesterday that he participated in a bribery scheme to buy the influence of FIFA officials to win commercial rights to major tournaments, a decision he later regretted.
"I made a mistake," Jose 'Jota' Hawilla said at the US conspiracy trial of three former South American soccer officials. "I committed an error, and I regret it very much."
Hawilla, founder of the Traffic Group marketing firm, became the latest cooperator to take the witness stand after pleading guilty in the sprawling investigation of FIFA, the sport's governing body.
Testifying in Portuguese through an interpreter, the 74-year-old witness described how his marketing business and two other firms joined forces to pay a $10 million bribe to Jeffrey Webb, then a FIFA vice-president and president of CONCACAF, the governing body for football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, to help secure the rights for the Copa America in 2016. Webb has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and is awaiting sentencing.
The New York jury also heard for the first time recordings made by Hawilla after he was arrested in 2013 and agreed to cooperate with the FBI by wearing a wire. One tape captured a meeting with Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, a father and son who ran the Argentina-based firm Full Play, where they discussed bribing presidents of various national soccer federations.
"I want to co-exist with and make all the presidents rich," Mariano Jinkis said, according to a transcript of the tape.
When Hawilla told the father and the son that he wanted to withdraw from the scheme and make his company "clean" again so he could sell it, the son said that he didn't want to partner with anyone else who didn't understand that bribes, or "payoffs", as he called them, were business as usual.
"There will always be payoffs," he said. "There will be pay-offs forever."