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Fifa's Blazer in US undercover deal

Former Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer agreed to act undercover for US prosecutors and has been co-operating in the government's investigation of football corruption since at least 2011, it has emerged.

Blazer's 19-page co-operation agreement from November 25 2013 was unsealed after a federal judge agreed to a request by five media organisations and rejected an objection by prosecutors.

Blazer, 70, agreed "to participate in undercover activities pursuant to the specific instructions of law enforcement agents or this office" and "not to reveal his co-operation or any information derived therefrom to any third party without prior consent", according to the agreement between Blazer and the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York.

He also agreed not to contest any ban imposed on him by Fifa or any other football governing body.

As part of the deal Blazer agreed he had unreported income over 11 million dollars (£7m) for 2005-10 and said he would sign over title of his Fifa pension if needed to satisfy payments owed to the US government. He has already agreed to penalties and a fine totalling nearly 2.5 million dollars (£1.6m) and to pay more in the future.

In exchange for Blazer's co-operation and guilty pleas to 10 counts, the government agreed not to recommend a specific sentence for his crimes and also accepted that a reduction of up to three levels be warranted under sentencing guidelines if he "clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility".

Blazer, an American who was football's former No 2 in North and Central America and the Caribbean, pleaded guilty in November 2013 to one count each of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and wilful failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, and to six counts of tax evasion.

Charges involved facilitation of bribes in connection with the selection of the 1998 and 2010 World Cup hosts, and bribes and payoffs in conjunction with the sale of broadcast and other rights to the CONCACAF Gold Cup from 1996-2003.

His co-operation was first reported by the New York Daily News last autumn. His pleas remained secret until they were unsealed last month on the same day 14 football officials and marketing executives were indicted on corruption charges, including seven men arrested in Zurich ahead of the Fifa Congress, pending extradition to the US.

Just after he was elected to a fifth term as Fifa president later that week, Sepp Blatter announced his intention to resign when a successor was chosen. A law enforcement official has said that the 79 year old is a target of the investigation.

The maximum sentence to the 10 counts Blazer admitted totals 100 years, but he is likely to serve far less time. For example, a three-level reduction to a racketeering charge could reduce the guideline sentence from 30-37 months to 21-27 months. And in many instances, judges order sentences to be served concurrently rather than consecutively.

US District Judge Raymond Dearie also unsealed details of his order last Thursday ordering the plea agreement to be opened.

"While the government's dire predictions may be hyperbolic, they are not unreasonable or far fetched," Judge Dearie wrote. "However, I simply cannot conclude that disclosure of Blazer's co-operation agreement would result in a substantial prejudice to these interests, particularly in light of the extensive amount of information already in the public domain."

Blazer was CONCACAF's general secretary from 1990-2011 and a member of Fifa's executive committee from 1997-2013.

The co-operation agreement is dated the same day Blazer pleaded guilty, and says "the defendant will provide truthful, complete and accurate information and will co-operate fully with the office".

It references 11 written agreements between Blazer and the government from December 29 2011, up to November 2013.

Blazer agreed to co-operate with the IRS to determine and pay tax on his liability from 2005-13 and said he had an unreported account at FirstCaribbean International Bank in the Bahamas with 975,751 dollars. He agreed to pay a FBAR civil penalty for 487,875 dollars.

He "suffers from a number of serious physical ailments that have recently required hospitalisation", according to Judge Dearie. At the November 2013 hearing Blazer said he had received chemotherapy and radiation for rectal cancer, and also suffered from diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Blazer forfeited 1,958,092 dollars and agreed to pay a second amount to be determined by the time of sentencing.


From Belfast Telegraph