Panama Papers Link FIFA Ethics Member, LatAm Soccer Corruption

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Newly leaked documents from a Panama-based law firm connect a member of FIFA’s ethics commission to three individuals facing bribery charges over deals to secure marketing and broadcast rights for soccer events in Latin America. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung released findings on April 3 that connect the law firm of Uruguayan attorney Juan Pedro Damiani — a member of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee and president of the Club Atlético Peñarol in Uruguay — to three individuals indicted by US authorities on FIFA-related corruption charges. 

The findings were pulled from a trove of secret documents, now popularly know as the Panama Papers, obtained from the confidential files of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca

ICIJ’s analysis shows that Damiani’s firm is linked to seven businesses associated with Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay, a former FIFA vice president and former president of the South American Football Federation CONMEBOL. Findings also link Damiani’s firm to a US company connected to Hugo and Mariano Jinkis.

Figueredo and both Jinkis’ are currently facing charges from US authorities regarding alleged bribery payments made in exchange for broadcast and marketing rights to FIFA events in Latin America. This included the Copa América tournament and the Copa Libertadores.

Neither Damiani nor his law firm have been accused of any wrongdoing or illegal actions. Damiani reportedly disclosed his previous connections with Figueredo to the FIFA ethics commission in mid-March, a day after the ICIJ submitted questions to Damiani regarding the connections.

The ethics committee says it will be conducting an investigation. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

Soccer officials from across Latin America have been at the center of the FIFA corruption scandal since it began unfolding last summer. Of the original 14 FIFA officials first indicted by the US Department of Justice in May 2015, 12 of the them were from Latin America. In a subsequent round of indictments released in December 2015, all 16 defendants were from Latin America. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer Crime

These latest revelations about possible business connections between a FIFA ethics committee member from Latin America and individuals facing FIFA-related corruption charges, however reopen the fresh wounds of the FIFA scandal that many soccer Latin American officials were presumably hoping to put behind them. 

The Panama Papers also link several well known Latin American soccer players to Mossack Fonseca, including Lionel Messi, who is currently facing tax evasion charges in Spain. 

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