A Miami-based media company has been ordered by a New York judge to pay more than $6.5 million in restitution to several CONCACAF member associations for committing wire fraud.
US Imagina, LLC, executives Roger Huguet and Fabio Tordin, who funneled millions in bribe money, pled guilty in 2015 to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; the first count charged the company, which was previously known as MediaWorld, to paying bribes from 2012 to 2015 to acquire media rights for World Cup qualification matches involving Caribbean member associations.
The second count charged US Imagina with paying bribes from 2008 to 2015 for bribing four Central American member associations, also for World Cup qualifier media rights.
Judge Pamela Chen, a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York, sentenced the media company to submit restitution payments to the football federations of Honduras ($1.7 million), Guatemala ($790,000), Costa Rica ($600,000), and El Salvador ($565,000), as well as the Caribbean Football Union ($3 million), CONCACAF announced Tuesday evening.
“We are, again, pleased to see tangible results from the Confederation’s hard work, investment, cooperation and efforts over the past few years,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani. “These restitution payments would likely not have been awarded if CONCACAF and our football family had not reformed ourselves. Over the past three years, we have endeavored to change the culture of football administration in our region and how we do business. We have brought our focus back to football where it should have been all along.”
The ruling means US Imagina will fork over nearly $24 million in restitution and fines, with its Spain-based parent company, Media Audiovisual SL, forced to pay $12 million worth.
According to the New York Daily News, “US Imagina’s forfeiture tab was supposed to be paid up by Tuesday, but prosecutors told Brooklyn Federal Judge Pamela Chen postal problems pushed the deadline back a few days.”
“The check is literally in the mail,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pitluck said, according to the Daily news.
“I hate to say it, but given the nature of the case, couldn’t they have wired it to you?” Chen quipped, before apologizing and moving on.
“Since learning of these issues more than two and a half years ago, Imagina has taken significant steps to address this isolated misconduct as well as to strengthen and improve compliance and oversight across its global operations,” US Imagina’s parent company said in a statement, adding that it would “move forward as a stronger company.”