Friday 17 September 2021

Panama Company Pleads Guilty In U.S. To Bribing Costa Rican Soccer Official

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The Panama-based company, Mimo International Imports and Exports, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to the former president of the Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefútbol), Eduardo Li, in yet another case in the FIFA corruption mega-scandal.

Eduardi Li, former president of the Fedefutobol

The company entered its plea before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, to illicitly paying Li US$500,000 (about ¢284 million colones).

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Chen ordered the company to pay a fine and restitution totaling US$1.4 million: US$500,000 to Fedefutbol and a US$900,000 fine.

According to a statement by Mimo’s attorney Barry Kingham read in court, the company agreed in 2014 to pay US$500,000 to Eduardo Li, then head of the Costa Rican soccer federation, so that he would sign a deal for a U.S. apparel company to sponsor Costa Rica’s national team.

Mimo was seeking to pull out of a 2012 deal in which it had agreed to manufacture or import apparel from an Italian company that sponsored the team while collecting a multimillion-dollar termination fee, Kingham said. The U.S.company agreed to pay that fee, Kingham said.

Prosecutors said Li received more than US$300,000 of the agreed-upon bribe before he was arrested in May 2015 in Zurich, FIFA headquarters.

Prosecutors did not name the U.S. company, saying Mimo shareholder Moises Zebede did not tell the company about the bride and told Li not to reveal it as well.

Li pleaded guilty in 2016 and was banned for life from April 2017.

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The FBI agent who handled the case, Bill Sweeney, said his agency will spare no effort to stop the criminal behavior that taints the sport of soccer.

In Costa Rica, the Fedefutbol has yet to comment on the case, La Nacion reports the current president of Fedefútbol, Rodolfo Villalobos, who at that time was the treasurer of theExecutive Committee chaired by Li, had agreed to an interview, but, later retracted saying it was “a sensitive issue”.

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