first_img“The defendant abused the trust placed in him as a soccer official in order to line his own pockets. The defendant’s breach of trust was particularly significant given his position as a member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance committee, which must play an important and independent role if corruption within FIFA is to be eliminated.”According to the criminal information to which Lai pleaded guilty, he received more than $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from a faction of soccer officials in the Asian region in exchange for using his influence as a soccer official. The cash was intended to advance the interests of the faction that bribed him, including by helping officials in that faction identify other officials to offer bribes.A U.S. Department of Justice news release did not identify details of the faction buying influence.Lai also received $100,000 in bribes in 2011 from an official of the AFC who was then running for the FIFA presidency, in exchange for Lai’s vote and support in the then-upcoming FIFA presidential election.Mohamed bin Hammam, the AFC president who was running against Blatter in that FIFA election, was later banned for life from soccer by FIFA.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Newsome avenges last year’s close loss, nabs Slam Dunk crown The latest plea reaches deep into Asian soccer for the first time and involves an official who retained his position monitoring FIFA’s multi-billion dollar income and spending in the transition from former president Sepp Blatter to his successor Gianni Infantino.Lai’s 90-day interim ban by the FIFA ethics committee prevents him taking part in the world soccer body’s audit panel meeting on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain. Also that day, Asian soccer federations meet in the city to elect delegates to the FIFA Council.FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Lai also pleaded guilty to failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties. The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen.Bridget M. Rohde, an Acting U.S. Attorney, announced the guilty plea and said it “marks another important step in our ongoing effort to root out corruption in international soccer.”ADVERTISEMENT View comments Wildlife rescuers asked to turn over animals to DENR Presidency bid needs ‘deep reflection’ – Sara Duterte Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos LATEST STORIES Bulacan town gears up for biggest cookie jar Taal Volcano evacuees warned against going home Ex-Bulacan town vice mayor, village chief shot dead Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely Duterte’s ‘soft heart’ could save ABS-CBN, says election lawyer FILE – This is a Friday, Oct. 29, 2010 file photo of the then FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, left, and Sepp Blatter, President of the International Soccer Federation FIFA share a word during a press conference after a two-day executive committee meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA has sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption implicating world soccer leaders to Switzerland’s attorney general. However, FIFA said Friday March 31, 2017 it was legally barred from publishing the full reports or commenting on the evidence or conclusions. (Alessandro Della Bella/ Keystone, File via AP)ZURICH — The sprawling American investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer has reached into Asia and claimed the first guilty plea from a senior official in the new FIFA leadership.A member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, Richard Lai of Guam, was provisionally suspended Friday by the FIFA ethics committee after admitting to taking about $1 million in bribes, including from a “faction” of Asian officials buying influence among voters.ADVERTISEMENT Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ The Asian Football Confederation, where he is a long-time executive committee member, also “provisionally suspended Richard Lai from football with immediate effect.”Lai, a United States citizen and president of Guam’s soccer federation since 2001, plead guilty in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday. The FIFA ethics committee typically imposes life bans on officials who plead guilty.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnThe AFC official admitted to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy in connection with multiple schemes to accept and pay bribes to soccer officials.Lai’s case marks a stunning step forward in the American federal investigation, which had indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.last_img

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