By Stefan Fabien, Attorney-at-Law, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Costas Takkas, the former General Secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA), has been sentenced to 15 months in jail, by a United States Federal Court in New York, having been credited with the 10 months already served in a Swiss prison whilst on remand.
The sentence comes some 6 months after Takkas pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges in May 2017 for his part in what the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) referred to as a rights bribery and money laundering scheme.
According to the USDOJ, Takkas, a UK-Greek Cypriot dual-national, trained accountant and former attaché of the former CIFA President and FIFA Vice President, Jeffrey Webb, conspired over a three-year period to secretly funnel ‘bribe money’ to Webb and an executive of a third party US-based sports marketing company, in exchange for Webb having awarded to that third party company, the bundled media and marketing rights to the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) World Cup qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 campaigns.
Takkas, together with Webb, were two of seven FIFA officials who were arrested in a dramatic dawn raid at a Swiss hotel in May 2015, two days before the FIFA Presidential Elections were scheduled to take place. Both Takkas and Webb were subsequently extradited to the United States.
Webb remains under House arrest in Georgia, United States, awaiting sentencing, after having pleaded guilty, in November 2015, to seven counts of racketeering, money laundering conspiracy and wire transfer conspiracy. Webb’s sentencing has been pushed back some 5 times and he is now expected to be sentenced in January 2018.
Former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner, continues to stave off attempts at extradition from his native Trinidad, having filed an appeal this month against the decision of a High Court Judge to dismiss his Judicial Review claim against the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, who signed the ‘authority to proceed’ with the United States’ extradition in September 2015.
In addition to the custodial sentence, Takkas was ordered by the United States New York East District Judge, Pamela K. Chen, to pay US$3 million in restitution to the CFU for his part in the scheme.
We await seeing whether a similar restitution component features in the sentencing of those found guilty for their role in the conspiracy, as ultimately, the constituent nations of the CFU are the real victims of such an elaborate financial conspiracy!
Stefan Fabien may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’