Swiss courts return RM166m to CONMEBOL in corruption probe

LAUSANNE • The Swiss courts have returned to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) 36.6 million Swiss francs (RM166 million) which had been retrieved from two former officials accused of corruption, the office of the attorney general (OAG) announced yesterday.

In one of the 20 investigations around world football governing body FIFA, the OAG opened proceedings against the former CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz, who died in August 2019, and Eduardo Deluca, who was the secretary-general for 23 years.

“Both were alleged to have abused their positions to the prejudice of CONMEBOL and to have unlawfully enriched themselves and possibly other persons,” OAG said in a statement.

They were accused of having received bribes in exchange for the allocation of TV broadcasting rights for competitions organised by CONMEBOL, including the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.

CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez described the ruling as a “historic achievement” on Twitter.

“We confirm our commitment to justice, transparency and clear rules. What football generates should stay in football.”

Leoz, a former FIFA VP and close ally of former president Sepp Blatter, was also implicated in an American bribery investigation over World Cup bidding. The Peruvian’s death in August 2019 prompted proceedings against him to be dropped.

“The presumption of innocence continues to apply in his case,” said the OAG which also abandoned criminal proceedings against the

Argentinian Deluca in September. This, however, was “essentially because criminal proceedings are being conducted in Argentina relating to the same matter, thus avoiding double jeopardy”.

The funds were secured and returned to CONMEBOL in three tranches — 16.1 million Swiss francs in December 2019, then 1.8 million and 18.7 million in September. — AFP