Mediapro clarifies position on Fifa-gate bribes case
Mediapro, the Spanish media company, has today clarified its acknowledgement that executives linked to its parent paid bribes to Fifa officials to acquire exclusive media rights to qualifying matches in the Americas for three soccer World Cups.
US Imagina, a sister agency of Mediapro, was implicated in the US Department of Justice investigation into corruption in international soccer in the wide-ranging Fifa-gate scandal that broke in 2015.
Mediapro had this week confirmed the terms of the non-prosecution agreement that was reached between its parent company Imagina Media Audiovisual and the DoJ, in which it was acknowledged that bribes were paid.
The three executives involved were dismissed in December 2015.
In its initial statement, the company said: “Imagina (Mediapro holding) recognises its responsibility, as a legal entity, for the criminal conduct of its representatives; that said criminal conduct for which Imagina was responsible included the payment of bribes for the purchase of audiovisual rights for the qualification phase in the Central American and Caribbean regions (Concacaf) for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup of football (collectively, the 'Rights of Qualifiers') in violation of United States law.”
It added that two of the ex-employees pleaded guilty to paying various bribes, while the third, a former co-chief executive of US Imagina, formerly known as Media World, “acknowledged the payment of a bribe of $1.5 million, in order to acquire the Rights of Qualifiers and authorised, directed and facilitated the payment of $500,000 of said total amount.”
It was reiterated that no other parts of the company were involved in the case.
The statement read: “Imagina wants to clarify that none of the activities carried out by its other business lines (such as audiovisual production and content) were involved in the investigation of the DoJ, as well as that Mediaproduccion SL - the company that operates, among other businesses, Imagina's audiovisual rights division both in Spain and in other countries around the world - was not accused of, convicted of, or used to carry out the conduct described in the aforementioned investigations.”
Mediapro said today that the statement merely confirmed what had been acknowledged by Imagina two years ago, with "no new allegations or admissions," and "was issued solely to clarify that the Company acknowledges the facts set forth in the 2018 NPA, in light of certain statements made by Company personnel that were inconsistent with the NPA.
"The DoJ has not alleged - and the company has not acknowledged - that the Company has engaged in any additional wrongful conduct."
Mediapro confirmed that as part of the NPA, Imagina agreed to a financial resolution, adding "any allegation that the Company paid a fine to stop a further investigation is completely inaccurate."
In reaching the agreement two years ago, Imagina said it only learned in December 2015, when a new indictment of the DoJ was unsealed, that Roger Huguet, the former chief executive of Media World, and Fabio Tordin, another ex-senior executive at the company, had issued guilty pleas, and that an unnamed third former senior executive was alleged to have been involved.
The full DoJ investigation centred on schemes in which $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to soccer competitions across the Americas were paid to officials with links to Fifa, and has resulted in multiple guilty pleas and convictions.