Ex-Honduran president to plead guilty in U.S. FIFA case

Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:59pm EDT
 
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas is expected to plead guilty on Monday to U.S. charges stemming from his involvement in bribery schemes under investigation at soccer's world governing body FIFA, according to a court document.

Callejas, who is also the former president of the Honduran soccer federation and an ex-member of FIFA's marketing and television committee, is scheduled to enter the plea before a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York.

A lawyer for Callejas, who previously pleaded not guilty, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn declined comment.

The 72-year-old is among 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation into more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks sought by soccer officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

The investigation has sent Switzerland-based FIFA and other governing bodies into an unprecedented crisis. Gianni Infantino, FIFA's newly elected president, has vowed to lead the organization out of years of scandal.

To date, 13 people and two corporate entities have pleaded guilty in the U.S. case.

Callejas, who served as Honduran president from 1990 through 1994, was indicted in December and came to the United States later that month voluntarily to face charges including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

The indictment alleged that Callejas took bribes from Media World, an affiliate of Spain's Imagina Group, so that the company could obtain media and marketing rights for qualifier matches ahead of the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.   Continued...

 
Rafael Callejas, a former Honduran soccer federation chief, talks on his  phone as he attends an interview with Reuters in his office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in this file photo taken December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/Files