Description: Brooklyn, NY - Panamanian Company Pleads Guilty to Bribing Soccer Official
Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Mimo International Imports and Exports, Inc. (Mimo) pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in connection with its agreement to pay a $500,000 bribe to Eduardo Li, who was president of the Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) at the time of the bribe. Mimo, which is a privately held corporation organized under the laws of Panama, paid over $300,000 of this agreed-upon bribe before Li was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland on May 27, 2015. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the government, Mimo was sentenced today to pay $500,000 in restitution to FEDEFUT and a $900,000 fine. Also pursuant this plea agreement, Mimo agreed to dissolve its corporate existence within 90 days. Today’s plea and sentencing proceedings took place before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office (IRS CI), announced the guilty plea.
“The defendant company Mimo agreed to bribe the president of the Costa Rican soccer federation, depriving the federation of $500,000 as well as of its president’s honest services,” stated U.S. Attorney Donoghue. “As a result of the government’s investigation bringing this bribery scheme to light, Mimo admitted its guilt and will make full restitution to the federation, pay a $900,000 fine, and cease operations.”
“This plea is just one in an increasing pile of investigations and cases the FBI and our law enforcement partners from around the world have been pursuing for years,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “It shows we're not slowing down in our efforts to stop greedy, criminal behavior casting a dark shadow on a game the world reveres. There will be more to come, and we won't stop until those who take money under the table and use it for their own illicit purposes get the message that they will get caught.”
“Today’s guilty plea is a clear demonstration of IRS Criminal Investigation’s continued commitment to pursue financial crimes, including those which further corruption in the world of international soccer,” stated IRS CI Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “IRS CI is committed to ending these practices and bringing bad actors, including corporate entities, to justice.”
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Mimo provided athletic apparel and sponsorship fees to FEDEFUT pursuant to a 2012 sponsorship agreement that was to run through 2018. In 2014, Mimo sought for FEDEFUT to terminate the 2012 sponsorship agreement, because if FEDEFUT terminated that agreement, Mimo’s owners would receive a multi-million dollar rescission fee. To induce Li to terminate the 2012 sponsorship agreement, Mimo agreed to pay Li a bribe of $500,000.
Li then terminated the 2012 agreement and on behalf of FEDEFUT entered into a sponsorship agreement with an American sports apparel company. Mimo paid Li over $300,000 of the $500,000 bribe, in United States currency, before Li’s arrest on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Mimo representatives did not tell the American sports apparel company about the bribe, and told Li not to tell the American sports apparel company about it. Li pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other offenses on October 7, 2016, and admitted in his allocution, among other things, that he had agreed to this bribe.
The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation into corruption in international soccer led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s FIFA Task Force.
Outcome: Defendant Will Pay $500,000 in Restitution and a $900,000 Fine, then Shut Down