A federal jury in New York today found Hernan López, former CEO of Fox International Channels and founder of podcast startup Wondery, acquired by Amazon in 2021 in a $300 million-dollar deal, guilty of paying tens of millions of dollars to score the broadcasting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and other soccer matches, giving the company the edge to beat rival ESPN.
The allegations stemmed from a U.S.-led investigation of FIFA bribery schemes and corruption revealed in 2015.
Former Fox International Channels Latin America President Carlos Martínez was acquitted.
Both men had denied participating in any illegal conduct.
According to a Reuters story, jurors saw emails, contracts and business records showing what prosecutors say exposed the former Fox execs’ multi-year scheme of channeling payments to soccer officials through fraudulent contracts and consulting agreements.
López and Martínez’s lawyers argued a former associate of the men, Argentine businessman Alejandro Burzaco, who had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was a witness in the trial, falsely accused the former Fox execs to try to secure a “lighter sentence under his plea agreement with prosecutors.” Burzaco’s lawyer denied the claim.
Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play Group SA, accused of paying bribes for TV rights to the Copa America and World Cup qualifying games, was also convicted.
ESPN reported Lopez’s attorneys “appeared stunned” at the ruling, and that the judge allowed López to be released on bail while awaiting sentencing.
Leave a Reply