A former Fox executive from Los Angeles is facing federal charges in New York in connection with the government’s long-running investigation of alleged corruption in organized soccer, it was announced Monday.
Hernan Lopez, 49, the former head of Fox International Channels, was named in a 53-count updated indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging him and three others with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
Federal prosecutors allege that Lopez and a second former Fox executive, Carlos Martinez, used their positions at the network to gain “confidential bidding information” during FIFA’s sale of U.S. television rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Fox won the rights to those tournaments in 2011 and won an extension in 2015 that runs through 2026.
Prosecutors allege the two men made annual payments of millions of dollars to bribe South American confederation officials to get the broadcasting rights to the Copa Libertadores soccer tournament and other events. The defendants allegedly “used the loyalty secured through the payment of bribes” to certain officials to “advance the business interests of Fox” and get the bidding information for the World Cup, according to the indictment.
“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
“These men, along with the general public, have known the FBI New York and our many law enforcement partners are investigating the illicit handshakes and backroom deals hidden in the infrastructure of soccer events, venues and marketing contracts,” he said. “The first public charges date back to 2015. This should illustrate to everyone still hoping to score millions corruptly, we’re going to find you.”
Prosecutors also indicted Gerard Romy, a former co-CEO of Spanish media company Imagina, and the Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play. They’re scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Brooklyn.
If convicted as charged, Martinez and Lopez could face up to 20 years behind bars.
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