Exclusive: Televisa affiliate surfaces in widening FIFA bribery probe

Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:32pm EST
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By Mica Rosenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An unnamed company described in a sweeping probe of corruption in soccer's world governing body FIFA matches the description of a close affiliate of Grupo Televisa (TLVACPO.MX: Quote), the largest broadcaster in Latin America, according to a Reuters review of U.S. and Swiss government documents.

In court papers filed on Tuesday, U.S. prosecutors said an affiliate of a major broadcasting company headquartered in Latin America helped to pay millions of dollars in bribes to obtain the rights for the next four World Cup tournaments in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Reuters has determined that the affiliate is Mountrigi Management Group Ltd., a Swiss company formed by Televisa that obtained the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 games in those countries and across the region.

Swiss company registration documents show that Mountrigi and Televisa are registered in that country under the same address and share several board members.

The court documents do not state that either the companies or their executives are targets of the investigation. Neither company has been charged with wrongdoing.

"We have no knowledge it refers to us," a Televisa spokesman said in an email, adding that the Department of Justice has not contacted the company to ask about the FIFA case.

In the court documents, prosecutors said "Broadcasting Company Executive #1" helped pay the bribes to the FIFA official. The Televisa spokesman denied the documents referred to one of its executives. Reuters was unable to determine the identity of the executive.

"We are certain all of the people from Mountrigi or Televisa that have dealt with FIFA have acted correctly and have not paid any bribes nor any kickback to FIFA official related to the acquisition of rights," the Televisa spokesman said.   Continued...

The logo of broadcaster Televisa is seen outside its headquarters in Mexico City, Mexico December 14, 2016. Picture taken December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero