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15 Dec

Fox And DirecTV Owned Company Strikes Deal With DOJ Over FIFA Bribes

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It seems that the FIFA corruption scandal also involves media companies, not just executives, and some of these media companies have major ties to US broadcasters and companies. One of the important businesses involved is Cayman Islands-registered T&T, partly owned by DirecTV and Fox. T&T is related to Argentinean company Torneos y Competencias SA and the company controls 25 percent of T&T.

DirecTV owns 40 percent of Torneos, which has been charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy by the U.S. Department of Justice. They agreed DOJ to pay about $112.8 million in exchange for deferred prosecution agreement that will see the charge dropped, if the company followed the terms of the agreement for a period of four years. Mica Rosenberg and Nate Raymond of Reuters wrote that the deal could affect the stake value of DirecTV.

What was Tornoeos doing? It is much more than the future World Cups. Plenty of bribes were paid for TV rights to the various tournaments, including Copa America and Copa Libertadores. The 92-count indictment that was filed last December includes many details. Only two companies have shares in T&T and according to Torneos, a Fox affiliate owns 75 percent of the shares and Torneos owns 25 percent of the shares.

T&T was not a broadcaster, but got broadcast rights and sold them to different broadcasters. In the case of Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores, T&T sold the broadcast rights to Fox, but GolTV was not happy with that. They filed a lawsuit against Fox Sports Latin America, accusing the Fox executives of wire fraud, money laundering, bribery, and many more to get the broadcast rights, despite of bidding less than GolTV.

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The lawsuit filed against Fox also included allegations that previous FIFA VP Eugenio Figueredo said: “The company FOX was behind all the illegal negotiations.” He also indicated that a manager, whose last name was Martinez, is the one responsible. Figueredo said this in his plea agreement with Uruguayan prosecutors and alleged that CONMEBOL chose lower bids from T&T repeatedly for the tournaments over higher ones from GolTV. Fox said that the allegations are “entirely meritless” in their statement.

“This is an entirely meritless claim. Fox had no operational control over any of the entities named in the FIFA indictment, and no Fox employees were implicated,” Fox Network Group said in a statement. “As for GolTV, it has been attempting without success to challenge the award of rights to Fox that were negotiated after the FIFA indictment, with full transparency to CONMEBOL. This lawsuit will fail just as GolTV’s previous efforts have failed.”

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