The U.S. Department of Justice’s hit announcement in late May that U.S. prosecutors have indicted fourteen defendants on corruption charges including actions of the International Federation of Football (FIFA) and associated regional participant organizations captured news headlines around the world. As new details about the scandal have continued to emerge the report has continued to control the news. But while the press coverage has been all-inclusive, it hasn’t consistently been completely accurate. Among other things, contrary to the idea in several national U.S. press reports, the DoJ’s substantial criminal indictment doesn’t contain any charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Nevertheless, at least according to some commentators, predicated on the claims made to date, specific businesses could find themselves facing FCPA-associated examination.
The Department of the May 27, 2015 press release regarding the indictment of Justice are available here. The government’s 161-page indictment. The Wall Street Journal’s May 28, 2015 front page article describing the claims in the indictment and relevant authorities court filings are available here.
Section of the confusion about the potential participation of FCPA-related claims has to do with the reality the center misconduct alleged is the making of improper payments to FIFA officials by representatives of sports advertising firms. As stated by the DoJ’s press release, the criminal defendants are alleged to have “methodically paid and consented to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to acquire money-making media and advertising rights to international football tournaments.”
But though the FIFA corruption-related indictment contains improper payment claims, the criminal actions isn’t an FCPA prosecution, as the Southern Illinois Law School Professor Mike Koehler points out in a June 1, 2015 place on his FCPA Professor website (here). Instead, as the DoJ summarized about the indictment in its press release, the criminal actions calls for charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. A number of the defendants were charged with obstruction of justice and tax evasion.