Switzerland Freezes Former CONMEBOL President Assets

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(ATR) A new chapter in the biggest corruption scandal in the history of world football known as "Fifagate" is now beginning.

Former CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz (FIFA)
According to the Paraguayan newspaper La Nación, the Swiss justice authorities have tracked, discovered and frozen accounts of more than 30 million dollars belonging to Paraguayan Nicolás Leoz, the former president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and former FIFA leader.

The money, tracked by Switzerland thanks to a forensic audit conducted by CONMEBOL, is deposited in accounts under the names of both Leoz and his wife María Clemencia Pérez. Both accounts are worth approximately 16 million dollars. There is also an account of 800-thousand dollars in the name of the former secretary of Leoz.

According to La Nación, the Swiss authorities are also investigating the existence of an account worth more than 4 million dollars under the name of another former top official in CONMEBOL, Argentina’s Eduardo Deluca.

This audit was commissioned by the CONMEBOL board of directors and its president, Paraguay’s Alejandro Dominguez before being sent to Swiss authorities.

Copies of this audit were also sent to the U.S .Department of Justice, where the extensive FIFA corruption trials have taken place. The Swiss investigation empowers CONMEBOL to take legal action to restore the aforementioned sum to the coffers of the confederation.

On April 26, 2017, CONMEBOL presented this audit at its 67th Ordinary Congress held in Santiago, Chile. The confederation announced there was a disappearance of at least 150 million dollars, which would have occurred between 2011 and 2015.

That amount would belong to payments of bribes for the television rights of various regional tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and Copa América. The possible crimes included illegal appropriation, criminal association and money laundering.

Since 2010, the U.S. government, the U.S. Treasury and the FBI have been investigating the money trail left by sports companies to the former heads of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF for lucrative sponsorship and marketing deals.

The judicial process in Brooklyn has involved 42 former top world football leaders and businessmen who have been charged with 92 crimes for the acceptance of more than $200 million in bribes. Of the 42 accused, 24 have pleaded guilty and two have been sentenced by a judge.

Fifteen of the people involved in the case remain in their home countries, some of which are still free such as the suspended head of Brazilian soccer Marco Polo del Nero and Leoz. Leoz is 89 years old and continues to fight against his extradition to the United States. Leoz has remained secluded at a hospital in Asunción for the past three years.

Blatter Considering FIFA Court Battle

According to a report by the news agency Reuters, former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter is considering legal action against the global football body he presided over 17 years in an attempt to clear his name.

The report quotes the 81-year-old Swiss as saying that while “for the time being there is no legal action”, allegedly he and his lawyers are working on a potential case.

Blatter currently serves a six-year ban for ethics violations imposed after Fifa went in 2015 through the biggest corruption scandal the soccer’s governing body has had to endure in its history.

In December 2016, Blatter lost an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against his suspension.

CAS ruled that Blatter had authorized payments to Michel Platini, then the European football boss, worth over $2 million that amounted to “undue gifts” and therefore violated FIFA’s code of ethics.

By INSIDER Miguel Hernandez and Javier Monne

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