Swiss courts return confiscated $40 million to South American Football Confederation

Leoz, a former vice-president of FIFA 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.

Agence France-Presse October 14, 2020 20:25:06 IST
Swiss courts return confiscated $40 million to South American Football Confederation

File image of Nicolas Leoz. AFP

Lausanne: The Swiss courts have returned to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) 36.6 million Swiss francs ($40 million) which had been retrieved from two former officials accused of corruption, the office of the attorney general (OAG) announced on Thursday.

In one of around 20 investigations around FIFA, the OAG opened proceedings against the former president of Conmebol, Nicolas Leoz, who died in August 2019, as well as Eduardo Deluca who was 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 the Conmebol, including the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.

Leoz, a former vice-president of FIFA 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.

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