Businessman Alejandro Burzaco (C) of Argentina leaves the Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, September 18, 2015. REUTERS/John Taggart

No prison for key witness in FIFA corruption probe

By Luc Cohen

Businessman Alejandro Burzaco (C) of Argentina leaves the Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, September 18, 2015. REUTERS/John Taggart

NEW YORK, May 12 (Reuters) – A former Argentine businessman who pleaded guilty in the sprawling FIFA corruption probe will not have to spend time in prison, after his testimony contributed to the U.S. convictions of South American soccer officials and a television executive.

Alejandro Burzaco, the former head of Argentine sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias, was sentenced to time served on Friday by U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn federal court.

No fine was imposed. The defendant previously forfeited about $21.7 million.

Burzaco, 58, had pleaded guilty in 2015 to three counts of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

He admitted to paying bribes and kickbacks to officials at world soccer governing body FIFA and regional affiliates for marketing rights to tournaments including the World Cup and Copa America.

Burzaco also said Qatar bribed FIFA officials to host the 2022 World Cup, which the Middle Eastern country denies.

“We’re thrilled” with the sentence, Burzaco’s lawyer Jim Walden said in an interview. “Alejandro and his family are grateful to Judge Chen for her compassion and wisdom, and to prosecutors for recognizing the substantial good Alejandro has done.”

Prosecutors did not recommend a specific sentence for Burzaco. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in Brooklyn had no additional comment.

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