Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: FIFA, False Claims Act, Lance Armstrong

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

08/23/2018

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Judge orders $1.2M payback in Lance Armstrong fraud case

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Lance Armstrong’s former cycling team manager to pay back $1.2 million to the federal government for his part in Armstrong’s doping scheme more than 14 years ago.

The government had accused the former manager, Johan Bruyneel, of unjust enrichment at the expense of the U.S. Postal Service, which paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004.

The government sought that money back in triple under the False Claims Act – nearly $100 million – but ultimately reached a settlement with Armstrong, who agreed to pay nearly $7 million to end the case in April.

“This ruling marks the finish line of a lawsuit brought by Floyd Landis and the federal government to recover money paid by the U.S. Postal Service to sponsor a professional cycling team featuring Lance Armstrong,” U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper wrote.

The rulings are part of a civil fraud lawsuit that started in 2010, when Landis –Armstrong's former teammate – filed a complaint against Armstrong and Bruyneel as a government whistleblowerread more »

Former Swiss Bank Executive Pleads Guilty to Role in Billion-Dollar International Money Laundering Scheme Involving Funds Embezzled from Venezuelan State-Owned Oil Company

The former managing director and vice chairman of a Swiss bank pleaded guilty today for his role in a billion-dollar international scheme to launder funds embezzled from Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA).

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Mark Selby of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.

Matthias Krull, 44, a German national and Panamanian resident, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 29 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida, who accepted his plea today.

As part of his plea, Krull admitted that in his position with the Swiss bank, he attracted private clients, particularly clients from Venezuela, to the bank.  In this role, Krull’s clients included Francisco Convit Guruceaga, who was indicted on money laundering charges on Aug. 16.  Krull’s clients also included three unnamed conspirators described in the Aug. 16 indictment.

Krull admitted that the conspiracy began in December 2014 with a currency exchange scheme that was designed to embezzle around $600 million from PDVSA, obtained through bribery and fraud, and the conspirators’ efforts to launder a portion of the proceeds of that scheme.  By May 2015, the conspiracy had doubled in amount to $1.2 billion embezzled from PDVSA.  PDVSA is Venezuela’s primary source of income and foreign currency (namely, U.S. Dollars and Euros).  Krull joined the conspiracy in or around 2016, he admitted, when a co-conspirator contacted him to launder the proceeds of a PDVSA foreign-exchange embezzlement scheme. read more »

Former Brazilian Soccer Official José Maria Marin Is Sentenced to Four Years in FIFA Case

The former president of Brazil’s soccer federation was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines and restitution on Wednesday by a federal judge in New York who called him a “cancer” on the sport.

The official, José Maria Marin, was one of more than 40 individuals and companies charged in a broad corruption case that burst into public view with a series of arrests during a gathering of top officials of FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, in Zurich in 2015. Nearly all the defendants, which include several of FIFA’s top leaders, were accused of soliciting, paying or accepting bribes in exchange for valuable television and marketing rights.

Unlike many of the defendants — more than 20 have pleaded guilty — Mr. Marin chose to fight the charges that he had accepted $6.55 million. Tried with two other defendants in December, Mr. Marin was found guilty on six counts of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. He was found not guilty on one count of money laundering conspiracy. read more »