'Confidant X' explains how FIFA money was diverted

'Confidant X' explains to Diario AS the methods CONMEBOL used to divert money in an exclusive interview.

The mechanics were as follows: the money entered the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) account, and then Nicolás Leoz, the president, distributed it at his whim. He moved the millions from the institution’s accounts to personal ones. It was that easy, like so with impunity.

This newspaper has the testimony of ‘Confidant X’, a former CONMEBOL employee, who provides documents that provide proof of the pillage that the South American Football Confederation was subject to while it was under the command of Leoz (1986-2013). Nicolás Leoz Almirón (Pirizal, 1928) was also a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee and he was a vice-president of the organisation. He is currently under house arrest at his Luque (Asunción) estate as he awaits extradition to the United States of America, the country that accuses him of corruption, bribery, fraud, laundering and criminal conspiracy. His accounts were mingled with those of CONMEBOL. The transfers of money were frequent, both in dollars and in guaraníes (Paraguayan currency).

The account regaled by Confidant X, who worked at CONMEBOL for a decade and a half, describes the ‘modus operandi’ in the South American confederation, the epicentre of the corruption along with CONCACAF (North American, Central America and the Caribbean), with money that arrived from all over the world, from Tokyo to New York, and, after passing through here and there, ended up in the accounts of its leaders in Paraguay, Brazil, the United States or Panama. “Sometimes, to massage operations, they used their relatives as a front. Dr. Leoz, with his wife, María Clemencia; his assistants did something similar.”

The first case which serves to illustrate how the money was diverted on a whim in CONMEBOL (which integrates Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) makes reference to a quantity of $1.5m “which the then (in the year 2000) president of the Japan Football Federation, Ken Naganuma, who is now deceased, sent to CONMEBOL to be distributed among the ten federations due to the South American countries’ vote for South Korea and Japan’s candidature for the 2002 World Cup”, says ‘Confidant X’.

“But that million and a half was distributed in another way: Leoz deposited $1.2m USD into his account; $200,000 USD for Eduardo de Luca, the CONMEBOL general secretary, and $100,000 USD for Zorana Dannis, the confederation’s link with FIFA.” A Colombian with an office in the US.

According to Confidant X’s documents, that quantity of $1.2m USD arrived in the name of CONMEBOL, but Leoz diverted it to his personal account (1596/2 of the bank Banco do Brasil de Asunción). This newspaper published the signature recognition of Nicolás Leoz and his wife María Clemencia Pérez in Banco do Brasil and they are linked to that account number. The other two bankers’ drafts ended up in Northern Trust International Bank (New York) and in an office of Citibank in New Jersey, both in the USA. This was “one of the operations, but there were many more and not all of them passed through my hands”. Confidant X explains that these practices “were common and followed”, until the point that it was almost impossible to separate Leoz’s private accounts from those of CONMEBOL itself.

Leoz resigned from his positions at FIFA and CONMEBOL just over two years ago. “FIFA has taken note of the formal resignation of Nicolás Leoz as a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and as President of CONMEBOL (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol for health and personal reasons,” read a FIFA statement which was published on the 23rd of April 2013.

In reality, Leoz was involved in the case of ISL, FIFA’s marketing company that went bankrupt after paying bribes to its leaders “because it was the only way to close the deals with them”. This was what Hans Juerg Schmid declared in front of the Swiss judge Siegwart, who cited Leoz and the rest of the FIFA leadership in the judgment. “Why should this court understand that bribes are paid," replied his lordship.

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