Trial Summary: November 15, 2017 (Day 3)
Government Witness: Alejandro Burzaco
Summary of Parties and Bribes Paid According to Burzaco
The Government continued with the testimony of Alejandro Burzaco today. He provided an overview of the parties and the various bribes that they were paid. Burzaco explained that Datisa consisted of three organizations: Traffic, owned by Jose Hawilla, a Brazilian; Full Play, owned by Mariano and Hugo Jinkis, both Argentinians; and Torneos owned by Burzaco, an Argentinian. Burzaco then gave an overview of the bribe amounts to be paid for each of the various tournaments.
In 2015 the bribery arrangement was originally projected to be paid as follows: for the Copa 2015, bribes totaled US$15 million, comprised of US$1 million to each of the six presidents of the soccer organizations, US$3 million to Nicolas Leoz, president of CONMEBOL, US$3 million to Ricardo Teixeira, president of Brazil’s Soccer Association, and US$3 million to Jorge Grondona. For the Centenario, Copa 2019, and Copa 2023, the bribes would total US$16.5 million: US$1 million to the seven national association presidents, US$3 million to Brazilians Marin and Del Nero, US$3 million each to the presidents of the Uruguayan and Argentinian Soccer Associations, and US$500,000 to the secretary general of the Argentine Soccer Association.
Burzaco then testified that he and the Jinkises told Hawilla that the amount they needed to pay in bribes was US$20 million per year, rather than US$16.5 million for several reasons: the amount was to be paid two to three years in advance, and because the bribes would increase over time he wanted to anticipate those increases; and, that Torneos and Full Play wanted more money from Traffic because they were worried that Hawilla would sell Traffic, as Hawilla had been trying to do since 2008. Burzaco stated that these Datisa discussions also considered the possibility of Hawilla selling Traffic.
Movement of Money from Traffic to Full Play and Torneos
According to Burzaco, Torneos and Full Play worried that any new owner would refuse to pay or would report them to the authorities. Torneos and Full Play wanted Traffic to pay half of their portion of the bribes to each of them through sham contracts. Further, if they weren’t paid, they wanted Datisa to have an obligation in its books to take the money from Traffic and give it to Torneos and Full Play.
The Government introduced evidence showing these arrangements through the use of various contracts: the Datisa shareholder agreement, which among other things terminated Full Play’s agency agreement with CONMEBOL; an Advisory Agreement, a contract that allowed money to move from Traffic to Datisa; and a Services Agreement, a contract by which Datisa would pay money to two subsidiaries FTP and Crosstrade, but Burzaco testified that this was a sham contract, and that Datisa paid money to FTP and Crosstrade without receiving any services.
Burzaco went on to explain the benefits of the Centenario tournament being held in the United States to the Datisa members. The Centenario meant more money for Datisa because the Centenario added another Copa (usually they only occurred every four years; this added a third tournament in the four-year cycle), and thus providing for a continuing rights agreement from 2015-2019 instead of separate agreements. The 100th anniversary tournament also would increase fan interest in CONMEBOL soccer. Burzaco further explained why CONCACAF was involved in the Centenario: the tournament would take place in the United States and six CONCACAF teams would participate.
Bribes to CONCACAF
In March 2013 Burzaco went to Zurich for various meetings including a FIFA conference. There he spoke with Enrique Sanz and Jeffrey Webb about offering a bribe to Webb for US$10 million and offering US$35 million to CONCACAF for their rights to the Centenario. Burzaco testified about the Centenario-Datisa-CONCACAF Agreement which mentioned the sale of rights to Datisa. Sanz signed this document on April 19, 2014. The purpose of this contract was to have all parties involved in the Centenario agree that Datisa had exclusive rights. In November of 2014, Burzaco met with Webb who wanted to know the status of his US$10 million bribe. Burzaco told him to wait.
Universal Rights for Datisa and Bribes to CONMEBOL
In May of 2013, Burzaco traveled to London where he finalized the contract of the purchase of universal rights for Datisa for all Copa tournaments from 2015 through 2023, including the Centenario. This contract was signed by Burzaco, Marin, Marco Polo Del Nero, Burga, and Napout. Burzaco then testified about a meeting between Del Nero, Marin, and himself, where Del Nero and Marin complained about not receiving their bribes. He also testified about correspondence with the head of administration for Torneos, Eladio Rodriguez, who kept track of what Burzaco had paid. Eladio would meet with similar figures in Full Play to determine that all payments were shared equally. Specifically he met with Santiago Pena in this capacity. Also around this time, T&T was created to be used for bribes for the Libertadores Tournament.
On May 29, 2013, Burzaco went to Mauritius for a FIFA conference and discussed bribes with the Jinkises, Eugenio Figueredo, Marin, and Del Nero. Burzaco went with the goal of obtaining signatures for the universal rights contract, and obtained all other than Chavez’s signature. In May of 2014, Burzaco traveled to Miami, Las Vegas, and back to Buenos Aires, discussing bribes with Sanz, the Jinkises, and Hawilla.
In October of 2014, Burzaco met with Napout and Del Nero who wanted an explanation of all of the bribes relating to these rights, with the purpose of redistributing Grondona’s share. Napout’s, Marin’s, and Del Nero’s yearly bribes would increase from US$400,000 to US$1.2 million, and the others in the group of six would go up to US$500,000. Figueredo would receive US$300,000 during 2015 and nothing after. At this time, Burzaco also became aware of the fact that he was under U.S. investigation. He was told Hawilla was cooperating.
CONMEBOL Presidential Scandal and Fallout
In April 2013, Nicolas Leoz, the president of CONMEBOL, resigned in the midst of scandal, and Eugenio Figueredo became president of CONMEBOL. Much of Burzaco’s remaining testimony concerned the efforts of defendant Napout to become president after Figueredo. In August of 2013, Burzaco traveled to Ascension Paraguay where there was a FIFA Congress. Burga objected to a change in the bylaws and requested that the press be let in to the Congress. This began the political movement for Napout to become the next president of CONMEBOL. At the end of May 2014, there was a drawing for the Copa America Centenario, and Del Nero and Napout discussed taking steps to remove Figueredo as president with Burzaco, but Burzaco was not in favor of that as he agreed with Grondona, who thought it would be best to wait until after the 2014 World Cup. During the World Cup, Burzaco communicated regularly over WhatsApp with Napout. They repeatedly discussed who would vote for Napout to become president of CONMEBOL. They also discussed the exchange of soccer match tickets for various friends and public officials, including Horacio Cartes, the president of Paraguay. On June 23, 2014 Burzaco asked for a longer commitment from Napout: exclusive rights through 2030. Napout also revealed at that time that Del Nero was one of his most loyal allies. In July of 2014, Grondona died. Napout took advantage of the circumstances and was elected president before the end of Figuredo’s term in January 2015.
In May of 2015, Burzaco traveled through the United States to Zurich where eventually many soccer officials were arrested. He was able to leave the hotel where the arrests took place, and traveled to Italy to meet his lawyer from Buenos Aires. There he decided to give himself over to U.S. authorities. Burzaco then testified about what he gained and lost by cooperating. He suffered a US$21.7 million forfeiture, but sold Torneos for US$23.8 million. He emphasized his obligation to tell the truth, and his possible 60-year jail sentence for his role in the bribes.
He summed up the bribes as follows: US$2.7 million paid to Marin, with US$5.95 million more promised; US$3.6 million to Burga with US$3 million more promised; and US$4.5 million to Napout with US$9.7 million more promised.
Motion to Remand Burga
After the jury left the courtroom, there was a motion by the Government to remand Burga to custody because of an alleged “neck-slitting” motion he made at Burzaco this morning and yesterday. This morning, that motion reduced Burzaco to tears. The Judge considered what the prosecutors and agents saw and, in the context of a death on Tuesday of Jorge Delhon, an Argentine soccer official (which may or may not have been a suicide), decided to choose a cautious course and confine Burga to his home at all times and allow him to communicate by phone only with his lawyer. She decided against sending him back to prison because he needs to be able to speak with his lawyer to prepare.
Mr. Burzaco’s Direct Examination is now complete; his Cross Examination begins tomorrow.