Juan Ángel Napout, a high-level figure in international soccer, was sentenced today in federal court in Brooklyn by United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen to nine years’ imprisonment following his trial convictions of conspiratorial racketeering and two counts of wire fraud conspiracy. The crimes of conviction related to Napout’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 Napout to pay $3,374,025.88 in forfeiture and imposed a fine of $1 million. A hearing on victim restitution is scheduled for October 4, 2018.
At the time of his arrest in December 2015, Napout was the president of CONMEBOL, the confederation responsible for soccer in South America, a FIFA Vice President and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee. He had previously served as the president of the Paraguayan Soccer Federation, known as the Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol, or APF. Napout was convicted 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.
“Napout rose to the highest ranks of soccer, holding FIFA executive positions and running a powerful continental confederation, only to turn his back on the institutions and people he was entrusted to serve,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “For years, Napout fed his greed, joining and furthering a rampant and deep-rooted culture of corruption in the sport. 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.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to 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.
“Soccer officials spent years gleefully pocketing money handed to them by companies and agencies hoping to further their own agendas, and they did it thinking no one was looking,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Now Mr. Napout, and other co-conspirators, are paying for their crimes in federal prisons, and the money they took must be repaid. Each investigation the FBI New York and our law enforcement partners brings to an end, we hope will restore a little piece of the game stolen by greed and arrogance.”
“Juan Ángel Napout abused his position of trust and authority in the world of soccer and allowed his appetite for money to lead him into a life of crime,” said IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “Soccer fans worldwide will be delighted to see their game cleansed of the exploitation that has marred it for years.”
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 Napout and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to corrupt the enterprise through racketeering activity. Specifically, Napout 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 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) two cycles of World Cup qualifying matches played by the Paraguayan national team and administered by the APF.
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.
JUAN ÁNGEL NAPOUT
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-252 (S-2) (PKC)
United States Attorney’s Office