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Former Julius Baer banker pleads guilty in US Fifa corruption probe

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A former banker at Julius Baer and Credit Suisse pleaded guilty on Thursday to a US money laundering conspiracy charge in connection with a wide-ranging corruption probe of Fifa, the world soccer governing body.

[NEW YORK] A former banker at Julius Baer and Credit Suisse pleaded guilty on Thursday to a US money laundering conspiracy charge in connection with a wide-ranging corruption probe of Fifa, the world soccer governing body.

Jorge Arzuaga, 56, of Argentina, entered his plea before US District Judge Pamela Chen in the Brooklyn federal court as part of an agreement with prosecutors. "I deeply regret what I did," Arzuaga said in court.

"I am ashamed." Arzuaga is one of more than 40 people and entities charged in the US probe, in which prosecutors say soccer officials took more than US$200 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights.

Arzuaga admitted that beginning in 2010, he helped arrange payments from an executive at an Argentine sports marketing firm, Torneos y Competencias, to the president of the Argentine Football Association, who was also a FIFA senior vice president.

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Arzuaga did not name him, but the president of the Argentine Football Association at the time was Julio Grondona, who died in 2014.

The sports marketing executive, Alejandro Burzaco, pleaded guilty to US bribery charges in 2015.

After the official's death, Arzuaga said he helped distribute bribe money left in his account to the official's heirs. Arzuaga said he received payments for helping with the transfers.

Arzuaga said he helped transfer the bribes by setting up accounts at two banks where he worked. He was an employee of Credit Suisse until 2012, and at Julius Baer from 2012 until 2015.

Arzuaga was released on bail after his plea hearing.

REUTERS

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