Former Managing Director At Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering Charge In Connection With Soccer Bribery Scheme
Jorge Luis Arzuaga Agrees to Forfeit More Than $1 Million in Connection with Scheme
Earlier today, Jorge Luis Arzuaga, a citizen of Argentina and a private banker formerly employed by Swiss banks, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with participating in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the distribution and receipt of millions of dollars of bribes paid to soccer officials, including the late president of the Asociación del Futbol Argentina (“AFA”), the Argentinian soccer federation. The plea was entered before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The guilty plea was announced by 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; and Richard Weber, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation.
Swiss authorities are expected to announce the resolution of charges against Arzuaga in a related matter soon.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, beginning in around 2010 and continuing through 2015, while employed as a private banker at two financial institutions based in Switzerland, Arzuaga managed several accounts controlled by Alejandro Burzaco, a principal of Torneos y Competencias, S.A. (“TyC”), a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina. In that capacity, Arzuaga assisted Burzaco and others in paying bribes to various soccer officials, including to the then-president of AFA, who is identified in the information as Soccer Official #1. Arzuaga furthered the bribery conspiracy in a variety of ways, including by opening a bank account in the name of a shell company established to effect certain transactions on behalf of TyC. The true beneficial owner of this account was Soccer Official #1. Arzuaga assisted Burzaco in paying more than $25 million in bribes into the account for the benefit of Soccer Official #1. Burzaco pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other offenses on November 16, 2015 in connection with his involvement in paying bribes to soccer officials.
Following Soccer Official #1’s death in 2014, Arzuaga arranged for the balance of the funds remaining in the account to be distributed to Soccer Official #1’s heirs. In exchange for his assistance in facilitating the payment of these bribes, Arzuaga received approximately $1,046,000 in bonus payments from Burzaco for moving bribe money through the financial system. Arzuaga will forfeit that amount in connection with his plea.
“By facilitating the flow of bribe money through the Swiss and American banking systems, the defendant provided a critical service to those involved in corruption in international soccer,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “Today’s plea marks another important step in our continuing effort to hold accountable those who facilitate the movement of criminal proceeds in the United States and across the globe.” Acting United States Attorney Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the authorities of the government of Switzerland for their invaluable assistance in this investigation and for their ongoing collaboration.
This plea shows how wide-ranging and systemic corruption once was in one of the world’s most popular sports,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Our work is nowhere near finished, and we will continue to pursue each and every corrupt member of this scheme until each is brought to justice.”
“The guilty plea announced today builds upon the ongoing investigation of corruption within FIFA, where we have continued to trace illicit funds through banks around the world,” said Chief Weber. “We are pursuing the bad actors - including soccer officials, sports marketing companies, financial institutions, and their bankers - who have intentionally and criminally violated the law by laundering illegal proceeds. Prospective private bankers and relationship managers should take note of Mr. Arzuaga’s conviction and think twice about the consequences of conspiring to launder money. These criminal actors will continue to be under the microscope of the financial investigative expertise of IRS CI.”
The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Bank Integrity Unit in the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn and the Bank Integrity Unit are receiving 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, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze, Paul Tuchmann, Lauren Howard Elbert, and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Michael P. Grady of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are in charge of today’s prosecution.
JORGE LUIS ARZUAGA
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-313 (PKC)