Ex-FIFA official pleads guilty to corruption charges

Blatter Platini

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini: both sued by FIFA

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini. Both were charged with corruption in FIFA

A former FIFA official from Guam has pleaded guilty to charges of corruption in a New York court, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Richard Lai, a former member of the audit and compliance committee at the world football governing body, admitted two counts of “wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his participation in multiple schemes to accept and pay bribes to soccer officials,” according to the attorney’s office.

The 55-year-old U.S. citizen Lai, who is president of the Guam Football Association, accepted a 100,000-dollar bribe to vote for an official from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2011.

The attorney’s office also said that between 2009-2014, Lai collected more than 850,000 dollars of bribes for activities within the Asian region.

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“Today’s plea marks another important step in our ongoing effort to root out corruption in international soccer,” acting US attorney Bridget Rohde said.

“The defendant abused the trust placed in him as a soccer official in order to line his own pockets, and now he will be held to account.

“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.”

Investigations into FIFA corruption by U.S. and Swiss authorities are ongoing.

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