U.S. Jails FIFA Chief Juan Angel Napout 9 Years for Bribery

by Samuel Abasi Posted on August 30th, 2018

New York City, USA : A former top soccer official in South America, Juan Angel Napout, 60, has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a US judge on Wednesday in the sweeping FIFA corruption scandal.

Juan Angel Napout was sentenced in Brooklyn, New York, and ordered to pay more than 4.3 million US dollars in financial penalties.

“Napout’s conviction, as well as the successful prosecution of other high-level soccer officials, has struck at the core of corruption in soccer and underscores the need for continued vigilance against fraud and bribery in the sport,” according to a statement from the office of US Attorney Richard Donoghue.

Napout had served as the head of the national soccer federation in his native Paraguay and, later, of South American football confederation CONMEBOL.

He was found guilty by a jury last December of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.

The sentencing came just a week after the former boss of Brazilian soccer, Jose Maria Marin, was jailed for four years in connection with the same case.

A third defendant at the trial, former Peruvian soccer official Manuel Burga, was cleared of all charges.

The three men are the only defendants so far to go to trial out of more than 40 people and entities charged by US prosecutors since 2015 in connection with the corruption scandal surrounding FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

At least 24 others have pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors have described a sprawling scheme involving payments of more than 200 million US dollars of bribes and kickbacks in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights for soccer matches.

The prosecutors said that Marin and Napout each personally took millions of dollars in bribes.

EARLIER : U.S. Jails FIFA Chief Jose Maria Marin 4 Years for Corruption

New York City, USA : A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Jose Maria Marin, the 86-year-old former head of the Brazilian football federation, to four years in an American prison over the massive FIFA corruption scandal.

Jose Maria Marin was found guilty on December 22 in connection with nearly $6.6 million in bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments like the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.

Jose Maria Marin was one of seven FIFA officials arrested at a luxury hotel in Zurich on May 27, 2015, and one of only two defendants convicted at trial in the United States in connection with the scandal that disgraced world football.

U.S. Judge Pamela Chen said in Brooklyn federal court that Marin was “a cancer” that corrupted the world’s most popular sport, both at home in Brazil and across the planet.

“He could have and should have said no,” she said at the sentencing hearing.

Marin cried and was very agitated during the proceedings, before calming down.

The former president of the Brazilian football federation was convicted on six counts of racketeering, money laundering and bank fraud, and has been awaiting his sentence ever since from behind bars.

US prosecutors had asked Chen to impose a sentence of 10 years in prison and a $6.6 million fine. Citing his age and frail health, his defense attorneys sought a sentence of just 13 months.

Marin spent five months in a prison in Switzerland before being extradited to the United States.

He posted bail of $15 million and spent two years living in luxury at Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper best known for housing the penthouse and company headquarters of the US president.

US prosecutors lifted the lid on a quarter of a century of endemic corruption in the heart of FIFA, football’s governing body, and on the largest graft scandal in the world’s most popular sport.

In total, 42 officials and marketing executives, as well as the sports company Traffic, were indicted with corruption crimes totaling more than $200 million.

Marin’s 2017 trial exposed not only the corruption, but the life of privilege, luxury and excess enjoyed by members of FIFA’s executive committee.

Prosecutors detailed a high-flying lifestyle for the sport’s bigwigs: personal chauffeurs, private jets, luxury hotels, meetings in idyllic resorts in the Bahamas or Mauritius, and cruises on the Danube for families.

At trial, defense attorneys depicted Marin as an innocent, unsuspecting elderly man that Brazil’s football federation tapped out of the blue to fill the vacancy left by the sudden resignation of the powerful Ricardo Texeira.

They argued that Marin did nothing without the guidance of his right-hand man, Marco Polo del Nero, with whom prosecutors said he shared bribe payments.

Of the 42 individuals originally indicted in connection with the FIFA scandal, three have since died and 22 have pleaded guilty. Two have been convicted including Marin and one was acquitted.

Another 14 remain in their own countries, where they have been tried by local courts, are fighting extradition or are still free.

“We are disappointed in the length of the sentence but appreciate the judge’s efforts to strike a fair balance,” Marin’s lawyer Charles Stillman said. “Mr. Marin will pursue an appeal.”

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