Former Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charge in Connection With Soccer Bribery Scheme
A private banker formerly employed by several Swiss banks recently pleaded guilty in Brooklyn, New York, 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 high-ranking soccer officials.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., of the FBI’s New York Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
The defendant, Jorge Luis Arzuaga, a 56 year old Argentinian national, entered his plea before the Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen. According to the criminal information, between 2010 and 2015, the defendant was employed as a private banker at two financial institutions based in Switzerland, and he managed several accounts controlled by a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina (the “Sports Marketing Company”). In that capacity, Arzuaga assisted the principal of the Sports Marketing Company, along with others, in paying bribes to various high-ranking soccer officials, the information states. According to the information, Arzuaga furthered the bribery conspiracy in a variety of ways, including by opening a bank account in the name of a shell company ostensibly established on behalf of the Sports Marketing Company, when, in fact, the true beneficial owner of this account was a high-ranking soccer official. In total, according to the information, Arzuaga assisted in paying more than $25 million in bribes into the account. Following the death of the beneficial owner of the account, Arzuaga arranged for the balance of the funds remaining in the account to be distributed to the soccer official’s heirs, the information states. In exchange for his assistance in facilitating the payment of these bribes, the information states that Arzuaga received approximately $1,046,000 in bonus payments.
The FBI New York Field Office and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office investigated the case. 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 prosecuted the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Fraud Section, as well INTERPOL Washington provided substantial assistance with the case.