Former Guatemalan Soccer Official Sentenced to 8 Months’ Imprisonment For Pocketing Bribes and Kickbacks
Héctor Trujillo, a Former Constitutional Court Judge in Guatemala, Ordered to Pay Restitution to Guatemalan Soccer Federation
Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, former Guatemalan soccer official Héctor Trujillo was sentenced by United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen to 8 months’ imprisonment following his convictions by guilty plea on June 2, 2017 of one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. Trujillo was convicted of these crimes in connection with over $400,000 in bribes and kickbacks that he and other Guatemalan soccer officials received from an American company in connection with the sale of broadcast rights to World Cup qualifier matches. Trujillo himself received nearly $200,000 of these illegal payments, and as part of his plea agreement he agreed to forfeit $175,000 to the government. Also today, Judge Chen found that Trujillo was liable for $415,000 in restitution to the Guatemalan soccer federation, known as “FENAFUTG.” Trujillo served as secretary of the FENAFUTG Executive Committee from approximately 2010 until his arrest in December 2015. At the time of his arrest he also served as a judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala.
Bridget M. Rohde, Acting 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), announced the sentence.
“Rather than uphold the standards of honesty and integrity expected of the leadership of international soccer, the defendant and his co-conspirators lined their pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “The defendant has now been brought to justice. This Office and its law enforcement partners at the FBI and IRS will continue to vigorously pursue those who would use leadership positions to engage in corruption, especially when it involves the U.S. banking system.” Ms. Rohde also thanked the United States Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, Organized Crime and Gang Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section for their assistance in the case, and expressed her appreciation to the government of Guatemala for its cooperation.
“It’s not hard to imagine the honest officials and businesses involved in World Cup Soccer make a lot of money because it’s the most popular sport around the world,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “But it seems that wasn’t enough for the subjects charged and many convicted in this sweeping corruption investigation. They used their positions and power to use bribes and kickbacks to satiate their greed. This conviction shows we’re not done with our work, and the FBI, Eastern District, IRS and our law enforcement partners won’t stop pursuing those who are abusing the system.”
“Today has seen the first sentencing in a long line of FIFA officials and sports marketing executives involved in systemic corruption in the governance of the world’s game,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation’s Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “This defendant used his position of trust to line his pockets and cheat the National Football Federation of Guatemala of his fair and honest services. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to use our financial investigative expertise to root out the corruption which has plagued this sport for decades, while at the same time ensuring the integrity of the United States financial system.”
The sport of soccer is governed worldwide by the Féderation Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”), FIFA’s constituent continental confederations (including CONCACAF, the confederation covering North America, Central America and the Caribbean), and FIFA’s constituent national member associations (which are also known as federations), including FENAFUTG. Since 2004, officials of these soccer governing bodies were bound by FIFA’s code of ethics, which, among other things, imposes a fiduciary duty on soccer officials in favor of FIFA, the continental confederations, and the member associations, and prohibits soccer officials from taking bribes or kickbacks.
FENAFUTG owned the media and marketing rights to soccer matches it played on its home territory during the qualifying stages for the men’s World Cup tournament. FENAFUTG, like many other soccer governing bodies, typically sold these rights to sports marketing companies that served as middlemen, which in turn sold different portions of the rights to different broadcasters and media companies around the world.
2018 World Cup Qualifier Cycle Bribes
In late 2009, Trujillo’s associate and co-defendant Brayan Jiménez was elected president of FENAFUTG, and Trujillo was selected to serve as secretary of the FENAFUTG executive committee. Soon afterwards, in February 2010, Trujillo, Jiménez and Rafael Salguero, a Guatemalan member of the FIFA executive committee, traveled from Guatemala to Miami to meet with executives of Media World, an American sports marketing company based there. During this meeting, Trujillo and Jiménez negotiated with the executives to sell Media World the overseas media and marketing rights to Guatemala’s home World Cup qualifier matches in advance of the 2018 World Cup.
Also during this meeting in Miami, Trujillo and Jiménez agreed to accept from Media World $200,000 in bribe and kickback payments in connection with selling these rights to Media World, to be split between the two of them. After Jiménez signed the contract on behalf of FENAFUTG, during the following months Media World wired a total of $195,000 from its bank account in Miami to the Panamanian bank account of an intermediary who then transferred the funds to Trujillo’s bank account in Guatemala. On some occasions, the conspirators falsely described the payments in the wire transfer instructions as legal fees for Trujillo. Trujillo distributed a little more than half of the $195,000 to Jiménez in Guatemala and kept the rest for himself. Salguero also received a disguised $20,000 payment for his role in facilitating the deal.
2022 World Cup Qualifier Cycle Bribes
In 2013, a Media World executive traveled to Guatemala for negotiations with Jiménez and Trujillo to renew the contract for the overseas media rights to FENAFUTG’s World Cup qualifier matches, this time for the matches leading up to the 2022 World Cup. Jiménez and Trujillo agreed to renew the contract, and again agreed to accept $200,000 in bribe and kickback payments in connection with selling these rights to Media World.
To facilitate the hidden payment of these bribes, Trujillo made use of an acquaintance who lived in the United States and owned an American construction business. Specifically, Trujillo directed a Media World executive to wire the $200,000 in bribe money to the construction company’s United States bank account, which Media World did, from its bank account in Miami. To hide the true nature of the bribe payment, the conspirators fabricated a sham contract for construction services between the construction company and a Media World affiliate. Trujillo’s associate transferred most of this money to a bank account in Guatemala, where Trujillo could withdraw it. Trujillo again gave about half of the money to Jiménez and kept the rest for himself.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s FIFA Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Tuchmann, Samuel P. Nitze, M. Kristin Mace, Keith D. Edelman, Kaitlin T. Farrell, and Brian D. Morris are in charge of the prosecution.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-252 (PKC)
 The information described below is set forth in various court filings and statements made during court appearances in this case and related cases.