The Imagina Group, United States-based parent of Spanish broadcaster MediaPro, have been agreed to pay $24 million (£18 million/€20.5 million) to avoid prosecution after admitting charges of corruption.
Imagina, previously known as MediaWorld, was one of more than 40 entities and individuals charged by US prosecutors in connection with the investigation into world governing body FIFA that became public three years ago.
At a hearing in New York City before US District Judge Pamela Chen, US Imagina LLC general counsel Erika Lucas admitted that beginning around 2008, the company bribed officials of the National Federations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).
She said the company paid the bribes to secure media and marketing rights to qualifying matches for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Lucas also admitted that in 2012, Roger Huguet, a US Imagina executive, entered into an agreement with Brazilian sports marketing company Traffic Group to split the cost of a bribe to Jeffrey Webb, then President of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
"Today’s guilty plea is a clear demonstration of [our] continued commitment to dismantling the corruption that has plagued the world of international soccer," said Internal Revenue Service agent R Damon Rowe.
Chen ordered the company to pay a criminal fine of about $12.9 million (£9.8 million/€11.1 million), pay restitution to the Federations and CFU totaling about $6.6 million (£4.9 milion/€5.6 million) and to forfeit about $5.3 million (£4.1 million/€4.5 million) in criminal proceeds.
The fine will be paid by the Spanish parent company, which has entered into an agreement to avoid prosecution, according to the office of US Attorney Richard Donoghue.
"Imagina is committed to the highest ethical standards and strict compliance with the laws of all jurisdictions in which it operates," the company said in a statement following the announcement.
"Since learning of these issues more than two and a half years ago, Imagina has taken significant steps to address this isolated misconduct as well as to strengthen and improve compliance and oversight across its global operations.
"This resolution, which comes after Imagina’s extensive cooperation with the US Justice Department’s investigation of the matter, enables Imagina to move forward as a stronger company."
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed that their investigation into FIFA is continuing.
"The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington," the DoJ said in a statement.
"The Government’s case is being handled by the Office’s FIFA Task Force and the Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Tuchmann, David Pitluck, Samuel P. Nitze and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution.
"The Government’s investigation is ongoing."