South American soccer officials go on trial in NY

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Edelman said the U.S. government would present evidence, derived from witness testimony, bank records, covert recordings and other documentation that proves each of the officials had received bribes.

They are the first defendants to go to trial at Brooklyn's federal court as a result of the sprawling investigation that has hollowed out the upper ranks of Federation Internationale de Football Association since seven officials were arrested at Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich in May 2015.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

US Assistant Attorney Keith Edelman told jurors the evidence will show abuse over 20 years, as the men took money meant to promote the sport.

They were at the St Regis Hotel in Florida to launch the 2016 centenary edition of the Copa America, which would be staged in the USA for the first time.


It should have been a "proud moment", the prosecutors said. "There are drinks, press conferences but beneath the surface are lies, greed, corruption", he said. "Some of these officials had other reasons to celebrate, they had agreed to receive millions of dollars in bribes regarding the tournament".

USA prosecutor Keith Edelman said in the opening statement that the sport's high officials, driven by "lies, greed, and corruption", agreed to take millions of dollars in bribes over a period of decades and "lined their own pockets with money that should have gone to benefit the game instead of themselves".

In essence, he said, the defendants used shell companies, offshore accounts and bagmen to hide their dealings.

At another 2014 meeting involving Burzaco, the cooperating marketing executive, and other people where the bribery scheme was discussed, Burzaco made it clear he knew they were breaking the law and expressed his misgivings, the papers say of yet another recording. In U.S. courts, that is a security measure more common to organized crime or terrorism cases, not financial frauds. The jury was sworn in anonymously after attempts influence the outcome of the case were reported to the judge.

The government plans to call three co-operating witnesses who will give evidence in return for lighter sentences. Even more unusual was a November 6 discussion Chen had with lawyers on how to handle "four sensitive names" that may emerge at the trial. Since then, the sport has had to confront allegations of widespread corruption and Sepp Blatter, Fifa president for 17 years, was ousted along with dozens of other officials. "People can get pretty darn creative under those circumstances".


"Rather than fix the harm done to the sport and its institutions, however, these conspirators engaged in the same unlawful practices that had enriched their predecessors", it says. Napout, 59, presided over the Paraguayan federation and was FIFA's president of South America's governing body.

Prosecutors say they caught him negotiating a bribe during hours of recorded conversation.

'It's about time to. have it coming our way, ' he said. It won't be. It's a corruption case against three former members of global soccer's governing body. "Do not convict him because others have behaved wrongly".

"That's it. That's right", Marin said.

Juan Ángel Napout, formerly president of the South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL and Paraguay's soccer federation, Manuel Burga, former president of Peru's soccer federation and José Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil's soccer federation are on trial in federal court in Brooklyn.


There also will be testimony about how Napout ordered electronic devices removed from his CONMEBAL office on the morning of his 2015 arrest in Zurich, Switzerland, prosecutors said in a court filing.

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