Rot at the Heart of FIFA

João Havelange, the former president of FIFA, and his ex-son-in-law, Ricardo Teixera, pocketed millions of dollars in bribes, which FIFA argued they should not be made to pay back. / REUTERS

João Havelange, the former president of the world soccer body FIFA, and Ricardo Teixera, his former son-in-law, took millions of dollars in bribes from a company that won marketing rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup , according to documents unsealed by a Swiss court today.

The Guardian reports that the documents, whose release the men had strenuously fought, show that Havelange accepted at least $1 million in bribes, while Teixera took at least $13 million from International Sports Media and Marketing, a now-defunct company. Together, the two took in some $22 million in bribes, according to the documents.

The documents include a court order detailing the terms of an eventual legal settlement of the charges.

They suggest that FIFA officials–including the organization’s current president, Sepp Blatter, knew of the bribes, but did nothing to stop them. “The finding that FIFA had knowledge of the bribery payments to persons within its organs is not questioned,” the documents said.  Astonishingly, the soccer body was aware that a $1 million bribe meant for Havelange mistakenly ended up in FIFA’s official accounts.

Just the same, the documents show, FIFA made every effort to stop the Swiss prosecution of Havelange and Teixera, arguing that FIFA did not have to see bribes the two men had “pocketed” for their “personal enrichment” to be repaid.

Havelange ran FIFA for 24 years until he stepped down in 1998, when Blatter, his loyal lieutenant, succeeded him.

Earlier, Havelange and Teixera had publicly denied the allegations, though under the terms of the court order, they repaid a small portion of the bribes. They did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sweep to Former FIFA president Joao Havelange received “millions in bribes”–report

The District of Columbia has not seen the end of corruption, with revelations this week of an illicit “shadow campaign” surrounding the 2010 mayoral election.

Jeanne Clark Harris, a public relations consultant, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and filing a false statement in the U.S. District Court Tuesday. Harris admitted to distributing and concealing a $653,000 donation to Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s campaign in 2010.

The money, which was never reported to the campaign finance authorities or the public, came from a prominent businessman, Jeffery E. Thompson. Harris said Thompson funneled the donations secretly to avoid damaging his ties to the then incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty.

Harris testified that Thompson, though involved in the “shadow campaigning,” did not create the plot.

According The Washington Post, one-third of the $653,800 went to paying staff, $130,000 paid for campaign materials, $58,000 paid for field worker supplies, and the rest for miscellaneous expenses.

Among the campaign items purchased were yard signs, t-shirts, banners, and posters bearing Gray’s campaign logos. The “shadow campaign” was focused east of the Anacostia River, where voting totals were unexpectedly higher.

Questions surrounding the 2010 mayoral campaign first surfaced shortly after Gray’s election, when a losing candidate, Sulaimon Brown, disclosed that Gray aides had offered him cash and a post-election position in the Gray administration to relentlessly criticize Fenty during the race.

In May, two of Gray’s campaign aides pleaded guilty to paying Brown.

Prosecutors have not disclosed whether or not they believe Gray was actively involved in the cover-up, and the mayor has denied any knowledge of the illegal payments. An attorney for Thompson declined to comment.

Sweep to Vast shadow campaign said to have aided Gray in 2010 

Two more British journalists were arrested Wednesday, under charges of having bribed police to obtain stories.

Notably, the two did not work for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which has been at the center of a growing scandal involving accusations it hacked emails, tapped phones and bribed officials to get news.

The reporters, identified as Justin Penrose of the Sunday Mirror and Tom Savage of the Daily Star Sunday, were picked up at their homes in Kent and in Southeast London early this morning.

Their arrests bring to 40 the number of British journalists arrested for making illegal payoffs to public officials.

Sweep to British journalists arrested over police bribe allegations


Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is president and executive editor of 100Reporters, and the founder and co-director of the Double Exposure Film Festival and Symposium, the United States' only investigative film festival.