Ex-FC Barcelona head arraigned for corruption linked to Brazilian football body

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Madrid, June 29 (IANS) A judge at Spain’s national court on Friday ordered the arraignment of a former president of Catalan football giants FC Barcelona and his wife on charges of money laundering, belonging to a criminal organisation and embezzling funds from Brazil’s football federation, CBF.

Judge Carmen Lamela said in a court finding that Sandro Rosell, his spouse Marta Pineda, their attorney from the tiny Pyrenean enclave and tax haven of Andorra, Joan Besolí as well as another three individuals had all been accused of various corruption crimes as they allegedly conspired to divert capital from the CBF reserved for the broadcasting rights of Brazil’s national team and its various sponsorship deals, reports Efe.

“In her summing up, the judge focused on two operations that were investigated, where Rosell’s organization, called Ailanto, proceeded to conceal amounts of money that had been unlawfully siphoned off by Ricardo Terra Teixeira, the former president of the CBF,” a court statement explaining Lamela’s findings said.

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“These operations were linked to the sale of broadcasting rights of 24 games of the Brazilian national soccer team and a sponsorship contract also signed by the CBF with the Nike sports brand,” the statement added.

Lamela said that it had been conclusively proven that the six accused, who are now set to face trial, belonged to a criminal organization and carried out at least two illegal operations aimed at hiding funds embezzled from the CBF by Teixeira, himself embroiled in several large-scale corruption scandals, some of which were linked to disgraced ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.

In 2012, a Swiss prosecutor’s report said that Teixeira, along with his father-in-law, had accepted more than $41 million in bribes while he was a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.

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Lamela said there was proof that Teixeira had signed contracts using a complex series of companies, including some based in the Cayman Islands belonging to Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Saleh Kamel, in a bid to conceal siphoned-off funds.

The evidence pointed to Rosell being a beneficiary of illicit payments, and that both he and his wife received a total of 6.58 million euros ($7.7 million) from November 2010-January 2011 in five separate bank transfers.

Lamela cited that Rosell’s explanations had not coincided with the facts uncovered by the investigation.

“Hence, as has been detailed, Rosell between 2007 and 2011 had performed financial operations that tended to obscure the true origin and ownership of funds summing up to 14,973,328 euros,” Lamela’s findings said.

The court said Lamela’s findings had been sent to Spain’s Prosecutor, although there was a three-day right of appeal before proceedings should begin.

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–IANS

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