Former Brazilian Soccer Official Sentenced to Four Years’ Imprisonment for Racketeering and Corruption Offenses
José Maria Marin, Former President of the Brazilian Soccer Federation, also Ordered to Forfeit $3.3 Million in Bribe Receipts and Fined $1.2 Million
Former Brazilian soccer federation president José Maria Marin was sentenced today, in federal court in Brooklyn, by United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen to four years’ imprisonment following his trial convictions of conspiratorial racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering offenses. The crimes of conviction related to Marin’s participation in schemes to accept millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for the media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments. The Court also ordered Marin to pay $3,335,593 in forfeiture and imposed a fine of $1,200,000. A hearing on victim restitution is scheduled for October 4, 2018.
At the time of his arrest in May 2015, Marin was the former head of the Brazilian soccer federation, known as the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, or CBF, a member of various FIFA standing committees, and a representative to CONMEBOL, the confederation responsible for soccer in South America. Marin was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and two counts of money laundering conspiracy following a six-week trial in November and December of 2017.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and R. Damon Rowe, Special-Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office (IRS CI), announced the sentence.
“Marin, like his co-conspirators, sold out the sport he was meant to serve to satisfy his own greed,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Now he has been brought to justice and punished for his criminal conduct. Today’s sentence shows that for all their power and prestige, the soccer officials who corrupted ‘the beautiful game’ are not above the law.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to governments around the world, particularly the governments of Switzerland, Brazil and Paraguay for their significant assistance in this case. Mr. Donoghue also thanked the Office of International Affairs and the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., for their assistance in this prosecution.
“At each point along the food chain, these soccer officials had their fingers in the pot because they made millions of dollars, thinking no one noticed,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “But they’ve each reached the point where they got caught, and now they’re facing justice for their crimes. Today’s sentencing of Mr. Marin is just one step in a wide-ranging investigation of these corrupt officials, and shows the FBI and our law enforcement partners are continuing our pursuit of those who used the game of soccer to pad their bank accounts.”
“Jose Maria Marin’s brazen attempts to hide the bribes he received while serving as a FIFA official, have come back full circle as he finds himself facing a prison sentence,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “As these sports officials are sentenced one-by-one, we are finally purging the game of soccer of the corruption that engulfed it for decades. IRS Criminal Investigation continues to investigate financial crimes and join their fellow national and international law enforcement partners to follow the money wherever it may lead.”
As proved at trial, FIFA and its six continental confederations, together with affiliated regional federations, national member associations and sports marketing companies, constitute an enterprise of legal entities associated in fact for purposes of the federal racketeering laws. The principal, and entirely legitimate, purpose of the enterprise is to regulate and promote the sport of soccer worldwide. The enterprise financed its efforts in significant part by commercializing the media and marketing rights associated with various soccer events and tournaments, often through the sale of multi-year contracts covering multiple editions of the tournaments.
Evidence presented at trial, publicly filed documents and statements made in court established that Marin and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to corrupt the enterprise through racketeering activity. Specifically, Marin and his co-conspirators corrupted the FIFA enterprise through the offer and receipt of tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks paid by sports marketing companies to soccer officials. Marin accepted, or agreed to accept, millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for the media and marketing rights to: (a) multiple editions of the CONMEBOL-sponsored Copa América soccer tournament played periodically by South American national teams, including the Copa América Centenario, a special edition of the tournament played in the United States in 2016; (b) multiple editions of the CONMEBOL-sponsored Copa Libertadores soccer tournament played annually by South American club teams and (c) multiple editions of the Copa do Brasil, a soccer tournament sponsored by the CBF for Brazilian soccer clubs.
The government’s investigation is ongoing.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s FIFA Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze, M. Kristin Mace and Keith D. Edelman are in charge of the trial prosecution, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaitlin T. Farrell and Brian D. Morris.
JOSÉ MARIA MARIN
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-252 (S-2) (PKC)