Swiss Fifa corruption inquiry convicts ex-banker Arzuaga

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AFP

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The former banker pleaded guilty at a Brooklyn federal court

A former Swiss bank employee has been convicted of money-laundering offences, in a corruption inquiry linked to football’s world governing body Fifa.

Jorge Arzuaga, an Argentine, used to work for Julius Baer bank. He admitted managing accounts that enabled football executives to receive multi-million-dollar bribes.

It is the first Swiss investigation to be completed in the Fifa scandal.

US prosecutors helped in the probe and Arzuaga appeared in a New York court.

The Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) said Arzuaga would forfeit $650,000 (£509,000) he had received in criminal payments – money that would now go to the Swiss Treasury.

Arzuaga was found guilty of falsifying documents and facilitating money-laundering.

He was released on bail after his plea hearing at the Brooklyn federal court on Thursday. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 4 January, Reuters news agency reports.

In a statement, the OAG said it was conducting about 25 separate investigations in football-related cases, and was examining seized documents totalling some 19 terabytes of data.

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AFP

Image caption

The bribery investigation led to resignations at the top of Fifa

‘Facilitated flow of bribes’

Fifa has been co-operating with law enforcement since May 2015 when Fifa members were arrested in Zurich.

The US court found that between 2010 and 2015, Arzuaga managed accounts controlled by Alejandro Burzaco, acting for an Argentine sports media and marketing business.

Those accounts were used to pay $25m in bribes, which prosecutors said went to the late president of Argentina’s football federation.

Burzaco pleaded guilty to racketeering and other offences in November 2015.

Commenting on the Arzuaga case, Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde said that “by facilitating the flow of bribe money through the Swiss and American banking systems, the defendant provided a critical service to those involved in corruption in international soccer”.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney, quoted by the Courthouse News Service, said “our work is nowhere near finished, and we will continue to pursue each and every corrupt member of this scheme until each is brought to justice”.



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