Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Reynaldo Vasquez, the former president of the El Salvadorean soccer federation (the “Federation”), pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in connection with his participation in schemes to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Part of the money Vasquez received was wired through a U.S. bank account. Vasquez also agreed to forfeit $360,000 and multiple bank accounts. When sentenced, Vasquez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Today’s plea proceeding took place via videoconference before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles (IRS-CI), announced the guilty plea.
“With today’s guilty plea, Vasquez admits to engaging in a decades-long racketeering conspiracy to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks that corrupted the game of soccer,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. “Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office is committed to rooting out fraud and corruption in international soccer and to protecting the integrity of the U.S. financial system.”
“From the beginning of this intense and sprawling investigation, our goal has been to root out corrupt officials who thought no one noticed their illegal activities,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll. “Mr. Vasquez didn’t achieve his dream of wealth and power, and now he faces the possibility of many years in federal prison. Today’s plea should demonstrate to others who attempt to corrupt international soccer – we play to win.”
“Today’s guilty plea is the culmination of years of investigative work by IRS-CI Agents and their law enforcement partners,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Korner. “Over a period of many years, Reynaldo Vasquez corrupted the business of international soccer by requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. IRS CI is committed to ending these practices and bringing corrupt officials to justice.”
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Vasquez and his co-conspirators participated in and corrupted an enterprise comprising soccer organizing bodies and sports marketing companies. As part of his association with that enterprise, Vasquez and others solicited and received bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding lucrative media and marketing contracts. In 2012, Vasquez, together with other current and former officials of the federation, received approximately $350,000 in bribes in connection with the sale of media and marketing rights to El Salvador World Cup qualifying matches to be played in advance of the 2018 World Cup. This bribe payment was wired from a sports marketing company’s bank account in the United States. Vasquez ultimately received a portion of his bribe money through a wire transfer sent through the United States. In 2014 and 2015, Vasquez and others agreed to receive tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in connection with the participation of the Salvadorean national team in friendly matches to be played in the United States. Vasquez was extradited from El Salvador to the United States on January 29, 2021.
The guilty plea announced today is part of a long-running investigation into corruption in international soccer led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. To date, the prosecution has resulted in 27 individual guilty pleas, 4 corporate guilty pleas, and 2 convictions at trial, among other resolutions. The prosecutors in Brooklyn have received considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze, Keith D. Edelman, Kaitlin T. Farrell, Patrick T. Hein, Victor Zapana and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-252 (S-3) (PKC)
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