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Swiss banker admits paying millions in bribes to Fifa executive Julio Grondona

Published: June 16, 2017
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Source: The Guardian

A former Swiss banker has admitted paying millions of dollars in bribes to Julio Grondona, a former senior executive at Fifa, chairman of football’s world governing body’s finance committee and president of the Argentinian football association.

Jorge Luis Arzuaga, 56, who pleaded guilty on Thursday to money laundering charges following the US investigation into Fifa-related corruption, admitted opening bank accounts in Switzerland for Grondona and channelling up to $25m (£19.5m) in bribes to him and other high-ranking Fifa officials from a TV rights marketing company, Torneos, based in Argentina. Arzuaga has admitted to being paid $1.046m for facilitating this corruption, which he has agreed to forfeit to the authorities.

The criminal indictment of Arzuaga issued by the US Department of Justice does not identify Grondona by name, but says “Soccer official #1” was a major recipient of bribes from Torneos, in return for helping them obtain football TV rights. Soccer official #1 is described as “a high-ranking official of Fifa, Conmebol [the South America football confederation], and the Asociación del Fútbol Argentina (AFA)”, who died in 2014.

Grondona was the president of the AFA from 1979, a key powerbroker on Fifa’s executive committee from 1988 and close ally of the former president Sepp Blatter, who praised him for his work as the chair of Fifa’s finance committee. Grondona died in 2014, aged 82. He was already identifiable in the US indictments as one of the Fifa and South American football executives accused of pocketing millions of dollars in bribes but Arzuaga’s guilty plea adds substantial detail to the accusations.

The indictment states Arzuaga became involved in the corrupt payment of bribes from Torneos to Grondona and other football officials as recently as 2010, when he was working at an affiliate of a Swiss bank, which is not named.

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