Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Ex-president of Honduras admits to bribery in FIFA scandal

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas leaves federal court in New York yesterday


A former president of Honduras pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges yesterday, admitting that he solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in the wide-ranging FIFA soccer scandal over lucrative broadcast rights.

Rafael Callejas, 72, who was a member of FIFA's television and marketing committee, entered the plea to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in Brooklyn federal court.

He also agreed to forfeit $650,000, payable within a year, for his role in a system so corrupt that hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal payments were made over the past quarter-century.

"I knew it was wrong for me to ask for and to accept such undisclosed payments," Callejas told US Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.

He said he distributed a significant portion of his bribes to delegates of the Honduran soccer federation so he could remain its president, a position he held from 2002 to last August.

Callejas, who was president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994, will be sentenced August 5. He could face up to 40 years in prison.

In all, about 20 soccer officials have been indicted on charges related to the US investigation of corruption in the sport.

The Justice Department has said that numerous guilty pleas in the case have resulted in agreements to forfeit over $190 million, and another $100 million has been restrained in the US and abroad. The US has sought to freeze assets in 13 countries.