Colombia’s shamed former soccer chief pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in New York this week amid broad investigations into corruption in world soccer federation FIFA.
Luis Bedoya, the former president of Colombia’s Soccer Federation, admitted to the charges which could see him sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the scandal popularly known as “FIFA Gate” that has implicated many global soccer executives.
For the first offense, Bedoya acknowledged that since 2007 he received payments and bribes together with marketing executives and directors affiliated to FIFA, for the sale of the rights of the media and the marketing of football tournaments, as was revealed in a transcript by RCN News on Monday.
Other managers and I in particular received bribes from sports marketing companies that paid these bribes to obtain, maintain and renew their commercial rights for the following tournaments: Copa Libertadores, Copa Suramericana, Recopa Suramericana and the Copa America. Among other things, directors, marketing executives and I used financial institutions that were in the United States and other countries to receive these bribes.”
Regarding the second charge of “conspiracy” Bedoya reports that between 2010 and 2015 he agreed with some other directors of football and marketing to defraud the football governing bodies of FIFA, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF.
We received bribes provided by a sports marketing company to obtain and retain the marketing rights of the Copa America, including the edition of 2016 tournament which was to take place in the United States. With the aim of promoting, I, along with other directors of football and sports marketing executives, we used money transfer institutions within the United States and other countries to send and receive these bribe payments.”
This admission of guilt by Bedoya is not new as he admitted to US prosecutors that he had earned millions of dollars through bribes and kick-back schemes but the detail of these declarations may be used as evidence in other trials that are ongoing.
“The information that he just accepted his guilt is false. He did it from the moment he arrived in the United States,” a source close to the trial told El Tiempo newspaper.
The decision of the court to postpone his trial date until June 2, 2017 is based on their need to use the testimony of the former FIFA Council member for others undergoing prosecution for fraud.
Bedoya’s admission of guilt is likely to benefit him when it comes to sentencing and according to El Tiempo newspaper he has already returned the money he had hidden away in a Swiss bank account.
As he awaits the decision six months from now he will remain in the US with the FBI withholding his passport and after his sentencing he will be deported to Colombia.