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Former Fox executive found guilty in bribery scandal

By Christopher Kirkman
|
March 11, 2023

A former 21st Century Fox executive was found guilty on Thursday of bribing FIFA officials for soccer game broadcasting rights.

Hernan Lopez was convicted in the case, while co-defendant Carlos Martinez was acquitted, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The statement

“Today’s verdict is a resounding victory for justice and for soccer fans around the world. The defendants cheated by bribing soccer officials to act in their own greedy interests rather than in the best interests of the sport,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace.

“The verdict today reflects this Office’s ongoing commitment to rooting out corruption at the highest levels. Companies and individuals alike should understand that, regardless of their wealth or power, they will be brought to justice if they use the U.S. financial system to further corrupt ends," the statement added.

The details

"The pair were accused of paying up to $32 million between 2000 and 2015 to corner the market on matches including South America’s most popular club tournament, the Copa Libertadore," according to the Daily Beast.

"Prosecutors also alleged that Lopez and Martinez used bribes to secure confidential bidding information for the U.S. rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments," the report added.

Lopez’s attorney said they plan to appeal the verdict in the case.

"A cooperating witness testified at trial that he paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes with the blessing of defendants Martinez and Lopez, both former Fox executives," according to Reuters.

"The case stems from a sweeping probe of corruption in international soccer and its governing body, FIFA, that has resulted in scores of convictions since U.S. and international authorities made their first arrests in 2015," it added.

The defense

Martinez and Lopez denied wrongdoing in the case.

"Their lawyers claimed the witness, Argentinian businessman Alejandro Burzaco, falsely accused the two men in hopes of getting a lighter sentence under his plea agreement with prosecutors. A lawyer for Burzaco denied those claims," ABC Broadcasting reported.

"The case stems from a sweeping probe of corruption in international football and governing body FIFA that has resulted in scores of convictions since US and international authorities made their first arrests in 2015," it continued.

The indictment, first made in April 2020, has led to widespread controversy over bribery and media contracts.

In addition to FIFA, past accusations involving the city's hosting the Olympic Games have been under scrutiny over potential bribery scandals as top destinations have sought to claim the rights to the event.

The latest decision brings a conclusion to the longtime effort but the case may head to another round if Lopez's appeal is successful.