In this episode, we will do a deep dive into unsealed indictment about corruption scandal that took place over the years with 60 people involved including FIFA executives, sports marketing companies and other individuals.
If you read carefully this blog you might know I am fan of indictments and like to analyze them in depth. This episode won't be much about OSINT sources but rather about visualizing cases and it might be helpful to clearly show results of your work and investigation.
One thing is to do a great investigation but another point is to present it in readable way for everyone to understand.
Last episode about Kamerka and exploits can be read below
I recommend to read it on desktop not mobile, visualization might not work properly.
The whole story is based on superseding indictment from 7th of December 2015. You can read it in total below
Superseding indictment - https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/797261/download
Above document supersedes the one from 27th of May 2015
And I'm writing this story now, because of third-superseding indictment from April 6th 2020.
These three documents overlap themselves but all the information in the research come from superseded indictment from December.
Long story short, it's about how people on executive positions in football associations took bribes from media sports companies to commercialize media and marketing rights to various soccer events, like the World Cup. It includes television and radio broadcasting rights, advertising rights, sponsorship rights, licensing rights, hospitality rights, and ticketing rights. Which then were sold to TV stations, radio broadcaster, sponsors, and sub-licensees.
Over the period of 25 years, 200 millions USD were paid to various FIFA executives to be next hidden among different shell companies. Reading whole indictment, you can find out how JACK WARNER obtained power and influence over the organizations like CONCAF, FIFA and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation ("TTFF"). He made a lot of connections during period from 1983 to 2011 and was appointed to the FIFA executive committee.
The unsealed documents are just wall of text and when you read it, it's hard to think about the scale, connections and timeline. I will present involved people, organizations and three stories focusing on one of them and present how money were distributed among actors to conceal illegal activity.
Before we dive more into story, lets take a look on organization in football world.
First, let me introduce you organizations that FIFA consists of. In this indictment main ones are: CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and others from Central/South America. For simplicity I will be using European term for this sport which is football. (in America it's called soccer)
Click on marker to learn about each association. Two are located in Miami. Pink markers mean main association and blue one - member associations.
In total, around 25 people and three media executives and sports marketing company were indicted. Indictment is mostly focused on couple persons on the top of the football world ladder. They have established connections and abuse them for their own personal gain. Lets take a look on their faces.
FIFA corruption scandal
Except key actors presented in previous chapter, there are also couple less important people. They weren't as high as other involved in the scandal. It includes unnamed conspirators, which I some of their identities have been uncovered during the research.
- ALFREDO HAWITT
Honduran lawyer and former footballer. He is the head of the National Autonomous Federation of Football of Honduras and was made the interim head of CONCACAF on 4 June 2011
- FABIO TORDIN
was employed in the finance department of Traffic Brazil, working out of the Sao Paulo office, and, later, served as the chief executive officer of Traffic USA in Miami, Florida. In or about 2007 to 2010, while remaining based in Miami, Tordin was self-employed, including as a consultant in the field of soccer and media marketing rights. In or about 2011 to the present, Tordin worked as an executive of Media World, LLC (together with its successor entities, "Media World"), a sports marketing company based in Miami
- AARON DAVIDSON
a citizen of the United States, was an individual employed by and associated with the enterprise. At various times relevant to the Indictment, DAVIDSON was a high-level executive, including the president, of Traffic Sports USA, Inc. ("Traffic USA"). Traffic USA was a Florida corporation that had its headquarters and principal place of business in Miami, Florida and was involved in the 25 purchase and sale of media and marketing rights associated with soccer in the United States and other parts of the CONCACAF region.
- ALEJANDRO BURZACO
was a principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A. (together with its affiliates, "TyC"), a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina. Burzaco was also a principal of a number of subsidiaries and affiliates of TyC, including FPT Sports S.A. (together with its affiliates, "FPT Sports") and Productora de Eventos S.A.
- RAFAEL ESQUIVEL
a citizen of Venezuela, was an individual employed by and associated with the enterprise. ESQUIVEL was the president of the Federaci6n Venezolana de F6tbol ("FVF"), the Venezuelan soccer federation, which was a national member association of FIFA and CONMEBOL. In or about 2014 to at least May 2015, ESQUIVEL was also a vice president on the CONMEBOL executive committee. At various times relevant to the Indictment, ESQUIVEL owned several pieces of residential property in the United States, specifically in the state of Florida.
- CHARLES BLAZER
was the general secretary of CONCACAF. Blazer resided in New York, New York, where he oversaw CONCACAF's administrative headquarters and staff. From in or about February 1997 to May 2013, Blazer was also a member of FIFA's executive committee, serving as one of the three members of that body who had been appointed by CONCACAF and the only member who represented the United States. At various times relevant to the Indictment, Blazer was also a member of various FIFA standing committees, including the marketing and television committee.
- Co-Conspirator #1, based on information from indictment, uncovered as Julio Grondona
was a high-ranking official of FIFA, CONMEBOL and AFA, the Argentinian soccer federation, which was a national member association of FIFA and CONMEBOL
became president of the Argentine soccer federation, known as AFA, in or about 1979, a position he held until his death in 2014. As presidents of the national federations of the region's two traditional soccer powers-Brazil and Argentina -TEIXEIRA and Co-Conspirator #1 joined LEOZ in wielding significant influence over CONMEBOL
- Co-Conspirator #3 - based on information from indictment, uncovered as Enrique Sanz de Santamaría
was employed as a high-ranking executive of Traffic USA. In or about July 2012 to June 2015, Co-Conspirator #3 left Traffic USA to become the general secretary of CONCACAF. In the latter role, Co-Conspirator #3 oversaw the transition of CONCACAF's administrative headquarters from New York, New York
- Sportswear Company A, uncovered as Nike
The company and José Hawilla allegedly reached a separate agreement that would pay Traffic Brazil executives $40 million, through a Swiss bank account, for their role as negotiators in the sponsorship deal. - Source, Bloomberg
To fully understand the criminal schemes we have to know what companies were engaged and their corporate structure. Indictment points to shell companies created by Jose Margulies, sports marketing companies in Brazil and Argentina and many other, including sportswear companies.
Traffic Group is a sports event management company founded in Brazil, headquartered in São Paulo.
In general Traffic Group holds television rights to variety of sports events, from football (the most profitable) to basketball or golf. On above network, you can see that JOSE HAWILLA was a founder of TG. Besides this, HAWILLA is associated with many more companies in Brazil and USA, you can check them on opencorporates.com.
Traffic Groups has other regional offices, in United States (Traffic Sports USA), Europe (Traffic Sports Europe) and also couple sports clubs are part of the group.
Important person in the structure was AARON DAVIDSON. he was involved in discussion related to purchasing media rights in Traffic Sports USA. He was arrested and pleaded not guilty for charges like racketeering conspiracy, money laundering or obstruction of justice. He was released on $5 million bail and is currently under house arrest in New York.
Full Play Group
Full Play Group is an Argentinian sports media rights company.
Full Play holds the broadcasting rights for most South American teams and some of the CONCACAF teams.
HUGO JINKIS is owner and former CEO of FPG along with his son MARIANO JENKIS. From indictment, we can learn they controlled subsidiaries and affiliates of Full Play Group S.A., including Cross Trading S.A. and Yorkfields S.A.
We can confirm ownership of mentioned affiliates on ICIJ offshore leaks.
Margulies was a controlling principal of Valente Corp. ("Valente") and Somerton Ltd ("Somerton"), South American companies registered in Panama and Turks and Caicos, respectively, that were involved in the broadcasting of soccer matches.
It's another important part in the puzzle. JOSE MARGULIES was a late friends of the JOSE HAWILLA. MARGULIES used accounts in the names of offshore corporations that were held at United States financial institutions to make payments on HAWILLA's behalf, which will be shown in Money Flow chapter.
To take one five-year period, for example, between March 2003 and March 2008, the Margulies Intermediaries wired more than $3.5 million into accounts controlled by the defendants RAFAEL ESQUIVEL, NICOLAS LEOZ, and EUGENIO FIGUEREDO, almost entirely through even, six-figure payments.
Superseding indictment describes 22 different criminal scheme during specific period of time where hundreds of millions were paid in kickbacks to different FIFA executives and sports marketing company officials. It includes bribes in cash, wire transfers and money laundering methods used by these criminals. I choose three schemes to dive into details and present one in more details, i.e. how money was distributed in CONMEBOL and Copa America tournament.
Each of the charts have been built with help of d3js for better understanding and visual interpretation.
CONMEBOL Copa America scheme
Copa America is a tournament that consist of teams from South America and from 1990, North America and Asia teams have been invited. It's third most watched tournament in the world and as you can imagine makes a lot of profits from broadcasting, sponsors and advertisements. Since 1987 till 2011 Traffic Group exclusively held commercial rights that were secured through contracts with CONMEBOL
Full story starts from page 62
2010 FIFA World Cup Vote Scheme
In or about 2004, the FIFA executive committee considered bids from Morocco, South Africa and Egypt, as well as other nations that withdrew before the vote, to host the 2010 World Cup.In or about 2004
South Africa connection
In the early 2000s, Daryan Warner, a member of WARNER's family, had used WARNER's contacts in South Africa to organize friendly matches for CONCACAF teams to play in South Africa. At one point, WARNER also directed Daryan Warner to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of U.S. currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #13, a high-ranking South African bid committee official. Hours after arriving in Paris, Daryan Warner boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where Daryan Warner provided it to WARNER.Early 2000s
Moroccan bribe offer
JACK WARNER and Charles Blazer traveled to Morocco as they had done in 1992, in advance of the voting for the 1998 World Cup host. While in Morocco during the 2004 trip, a representative of the Moroccan bid committee offered to pay $1 million to WARNER in exchange for his agreement to cast his secret ballot on the FIFA executive committee for Morocco to host the 2010 World Cup.Beginning of the May 2004
South Africa offer
Subsequently, Charles Blazer learned from the defendant JACK WARNER that high-ranking officials of FIFA, including Co-Conspirator #14, the South African bid committee, including Co-Conspirator #15, and the South African government were prepared to arrange for the government of South Africa to pay $10 million to CFU to "support the African diaspora." Blazer understood the offer to be in exchange for the agreement of WARNER, Blazer, and Co-Conspirator #16 to all vote for South Africa, rather than Morocco, to host the 2010 World Cup. At the time, Co-Conspirator #16, like WARNER and Blazer, was a FIFA executive committee member. WARNER indicated that he had accepted the offer and told Blazer that he would give a $1 million portion of the $10 million payment to Blazer.2004
Follow up questions
In the months and years after the vote, Charles Blazer periodically asked WARNER about the status of the $10 million payment.~~~~
At one point, Charles Blazer learned that the South Africans were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from government funds. Arrangements were thereafter made with FIFA officials to instead have the $10 million sent from FIFA -using funds that would otherwise have gone from FIFA to South Africa to support the World Cup -to CFU~~~~
a high-ranking FIFA official, Co-Conspirator #17, caused payments of $616,000, $1,600,000, and $7,784,000-totaling $10 million -to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit to accounts held in the names of CFU and CONCACAF, but controlled by the defendant JACK WARNER, at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.January 2, 2008, January 31, 2008 and March 7, 2008,
WARNER's personal account
WARNER directed Republic Bank officials to apply $200,000 of the $616,000 that had been transferred into a CFU account from FIFA one week earlier toward a personal loan account held in his name.January 9, 2008
WARNER caused over $4 million of the funds received from FIFA to be transferred to Individual #1, a Trinidadian businessman whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, Trinidadian Company A, a large supermarket chain in Trinidad and Tobago controlled by Individual #1, and Trinidadian Company B, a real estate and investment company also controlled by Individual #1. During approximately the same period, funds equating to at least $1 million were transferred from these same accounts into a bank account held in the name of WARNER and a family member at First Citizens Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The identities of Trinidadian Company A and Trinidadian Company B are known to the Grand Jury.in or about and between February 13, 2008 and October 3, 2008
During the three years following WARNER's receipt of the $10 million from FIFA, WARNER made three payments to Charles Blazer, totaling over $750,000, in partial payment of the $1 million that WARNER had earlier promised Blazer as part of the bribe scheme.~~~
The first payment, in the amount of $298,500, was made by wire transfer sent on or about December 19, 2008 from an account held in the name of CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit to an account controlled by Charles Blazer at a bank in the Cayman Islands.December 19, 2008
The second payment, in the amount of $205,000, was made by check drawn on an account held in the name of CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. On or about September 27, 2010, Charles Blazer caused the check to be deposited into his Merrill Lynch brokerage account in New York, New York. Approximately one month earlier, on or about August 23, 2010, WARNER sent an email to Blazer to advise him that the payment was forthcoming.September 27, 2010
The third payment, in the amount of $250,000, was made by check drawn on an account held in the name of CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The check was delivered to Charles Blazer by another individual who traveled by airplane from Trinidad and Tobago to JFK International Airport in Queens, New York, and then to CONCACAF's headquarters in New York, New York, where he delivered the check to Blazer. A representative of FirstCaribbean International Bank in the Bahamas, where Blazer held another account, subsequently traveled by airplane to New York, landing at Kennedy Airport. After arriving, the bank representative traveled to New York, New York, where he took custody of the check. He subsequently traveled to the Bahamas and, on or about May 3, 2011, deposited the check into Blazer's account.
Charles Blazer never received the balance of the promised $1 million payment.
In FIFA's executive committee vote held on May 15, 2004, South Africa was selected over Morocco and Egypt to host the 2010 World Cup. The defendant JACK WARNER, Charles Blazer, and Co-Conspirator #16 indicated that they voted for South Africa.15th of May, 2004
2011 FIFA Presidential Election Scheme
Co-Conspirator #8 declared his candidacy for the FIFA presidential election scheduled for June 1, 2011. At the time, Co-Conspirator #8 was a high-ranking official of FIFA and AFC. In accordance with the FIFA statues, the president of FIFA was elected by the FIFA congress, which was composed of representatives from each of the 200+ FIFA member associations.
Co-Conspirator #8 sent an email to the defendant JACK WARNER's America Online email account and asked WARNER to organize an extraordinary congress of the CONCACAF member associations, so that Co-Conspirator #8 could address them regarding his candidacy. WARNER subsequently sent emails to CONCACAF officials, including to officials based in New York, New York, for the purpose of organizing the requested meeting. For a time, before he was denied a visa, Co-Conspirator #8 was to have addressed the entire CONCACAF congress in the first week of May
Following further correspondence, the defendant JACK WARNER agreed to organize a special meeting of the CFU member associations, rather than the entire CONCACAF membership. It was further agreed that Co-Conspirator #8 would pay the costs associated with organizing the meeting.
$363,537.98 was wired from an account controlled by Co-Conspirator #8 to an account held in the name of CFU and controlled by the defendant JACK WARNER at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The funds were transmitted to Trinidad and Tobago through an account at Bank of America in New York, New York.
Upon direction by the defendant JACK WARNER, CFU officials sent emails to representatives of CFU member associations, including two member associations based in United States territories, inviting them to the meeting with Co-Conspirator #8. The CFU meeting took place on May 10 and May 11, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago. meeting was attended by the presidents and other officials representing the CFU member associations, including high-ranking officials of the Puerto Rico Football Federation and the U.S. Virgin Islands Football Federation, whose identities are known to the Grand Jury.
Co-Conspirator #8 addressed the member associations regarding his candidacy, stating, among other things, that he was seeking their support in the June 1, 2011 FIFA presidential election. Following Co-Conspirator #8's address, the defendant JACK WARNER advised the CFU officials that they could pick up a "gift" that afternoon at a conference room in the hotel.
During the afternoon of May 10, 2011, certain CFU officials, including an official of one of the member associations of a United States territory ("Official #1"), went to the appointed conference room, as directed by the defendant JACK WARNER. The officials were instructed by CFU staff members in the room to enter the room one at a time. Inside the room, CFU staff handed each official an envelope bearing the name of the member association that he represented. Inside each envelope was $40,000 in United States currency.
Prior to entering the conference room, Official #1 was advised that he must enter alone, and could not be accompanied by any other officials from his delegation. Upon receiving h~s envelope, Official #1 was directed by CFU staff to open it while in the conference room. Official #1 was further instructed not to discuss the payment with anyone.
The following day, May 11, 2011, the defendant JACK WARNER convened a meeting of the CFU officials prior to the scheduled start time. At the meeting WARNER stated that the U.S. currency the members had received was from Co-Conspirator #8, and that WARNER had advised Co-Conspirator #8 to allow CFU staff to distribute the money so that it would not "even remotely appear that anybody has any obligation for your vote because of what gift you have given them." WARNER further stated that a representative of one of the CFU member associations had contacted CONCACAF offices in New York to advise Charles Blazer of the payments. WARNER was angry that the representative had done this. WARNER stated, "There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you're pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business."
On or about May 12, 2011, Official #1 flew back On or about May 13, 2011, Official #1 deposited the $40,000 into a bank account in the United States.
The purpose of the $40,000 payments was to induce officials of the CFU member associations, including Official #1, to vote for Co-Conspirator #8 in the June l, 2011 FIFA presidential election. The defendant JACK WARNER participated in the scheme by organizing the CFU meeting on May 10 and May 11, 2011, and by facilitating the $40,000 payment to each of the CFU officials in attendance.
On or about July 14, 2011, after the scheme had been uncovered and the defendant JACK WARNER resigned from his soccer-related positions, Co-Conspirator #8 caused $1,211,980 to be wired from an account that he controlled at Doha Bank in Qatar, to a correspondent account at Citibank, for credit to an account held in WARNER's name at Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to receiving the funds in this account, WARNER attempted to have them wired instead to the bank accounts of two of his family members, including Daryan Warner, and a member of his staff, but the bank where those accounts were held refused to accept the funds.
We know already how the some of the schemes work, so right now lets analyze one of them and see how money was distributed.
Chart below refers to CONMEBOL Copa America scheme
Everything is described in CONMEBOL Copa America scheme paragraph but lets follow the money again.
The main player, who you already met, is JOSE HAWILLA - founder of Traffic Group.
In 1991, HAWILLA signed contract with CONMEBOL to secure rights for broadcasting but NICOLAS LEOZ (director of CONMEBOL at that time) was not happy because he didn't make any money out of the signed contract. He demanded money from HAWILLA and HAWILLA agreed on that and later transferred six figures sum. It was first bribe, we can see clear connection between them on the graph. It wasn't enough for LEOZ so he demanded more and more money from HAWILLA over the period of 20 years (1991-2011). The sum reached seven figures in bribes.
RAFAEL ESQUIVEL was president of Venezuelan Football Federation over the course of the 2007 and 2011, during Copa America tournament, HAWILLA and other Senior Executive of Traffic Group paid him also seven figures sum. HAWILLA had to agree on the bribes and to the amount to still hold rights to broadcast Copa America tournament. If he wouldn't have paid, the rights would go to Full Play Group (described earlier).
HAWILLA paid bribes in a manner designed to conceal the source and nature of the payment. We can clearly see, it went through account belongs to Co-Conspirator #10 and different intermediaries.
HAWILLA also made personal payments to other high officials of CONMEBOL including EDUARDO DELUCA, EUGENIO FIGUEREDO, and ROMER OSUNA.
HAWILLA transferred money to Brazilian and Argentinian Football Federation to make sure they will field theirs best players so more people around the world will watch and follow the tournament which makes more profit for Traffic Group and HAWILLA. Money was not transferred directly to them but to Unnamed Travel Agency and Unknown Accounts respectively.
His old friend JOSE MARGULIES helped him to hide nature of the payment and transferred money to different individuals via offshore companies - Somerton LTD and Valente Corp.
All of the involved people were aware of their criminal activity and used money laundering techniques including numbered account at a Swiss bank, currency dealers, and trusted intermediaries.
This time donation of $150 goes to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
2015 FIFA scandal by Bloomberg
Football is very lucrative business for players as well as everyone involved, businessmen, federations, associations and sports marketing companies. You could read Football Leaks investigations and know how players avoid taxes. If HAWILLA was able to paid hundreds of millions in bribes, think for a while how much money he made personally and for his company Traffic Group. Based on the indictment and the schemes that happened, you can only wonder what happened that next World Cup will be organized in Qatar.
Second thing I wanted to show in the article is to how to present your results in form of network graphs and timelines. I think times when you share screenshot from gephi are already gone. Vue.js or D3js give so much opportunity to show results of your investigation in interesting and interactive way. It requires a lot of work but it's still better than just screenshot, you can be kind of part of the investigation and recreate all the steps thanks to cool visualizations.
Next topic - Mindgeek advertisements and revenue. If you know anything about mindgeek revenue, who they cooperate with or any other knowledge, please let me know, any help appreciated.