Uruguay's Juan Pedro Damiani has resigned from FIFA's ethics committee after the Panama Papers showed his law firm acted as an intermediary for a disgraced FIFA official.We can confirm that Mr. Damiani resigned from his position as member of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of FIFA, panel spokesman Marc Tenbuecken reported. The news was advanced by the Uruguayan media.
We can confirm that Mr. Damiani resigned from his position as member of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of FIFA, panel spokesman Marc Tenbuecken reported. The news was advanced by the Uruguayan media.
The Panama Papers indicate that Damiani's firm helped Eugenio Figueredo -- the former head of the South American football confederation and ex FIFA vice/president who is now facing corruption charges in the United States and in Uruguay set up a shell company.
The leaked documents also show that Damiani's firm acted as a go-between for a Nevada-based company linked to two other people charged with corruption by the US: businessmen Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano of Argentina.
Damiani, who heads the prestigious Uruguayan club Peñarol, considered by FIFA the best world team of the XXth century, has won praise for publicly crusading against corruption in scandal-tainted South American football.
He has denied wrongdoing in the Panama Papers case, while FIFA's ethics watchdog has opened a probe into the matter. Damiani has acted in sensitive ethics cases involving leading football officials since July 2012.
Figueredo who has dual nationality, (US and Uruguay) was charged by US authorities with wire fraud and money laundering for his role in the alleged bribery conspiracy. Despite that, he was extradited to Uruguay in December where he was also wanted on similar charges.
In Uruguay Figueredo is currently in jail and the investigation is ongoing and Damiani and his law firm face are included in the case, because of, besides legal assistance, allegedly knowingly administered some of the real assets purchased by the former FIFA official with illegal funds he voluntarily declared to Uruguay's justice system.
Although the records revealed by the Panama Papers do not necessarily show illegal conduct by Damiani or his law firm, a spokesman for FIFA's ethics investigatory committee told the BBC in a statement: We confirm that on 19 March the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee was informed by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber, Hans-Joachim Eckert, about becoming recently aware of a business relationship between the member of the adjudicatory chamber Juan Pedro Damiani, and Eugenio Figueredo Aguerre.
After receiving the information Dr Cornel Borbely, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, has immediately opened a preliminary investigation to review the allegations in question. Dr Borbely is currently looking into said allegations in order to determine if there is a breach against the FIFA code of ethics and decide any further measures.
In Uruguay the court which has the Figueredo case said that the Panama Papers revelations and links with the Damiani law and accountancy firm, did not come as a surprise; prosecution had the information, and probably much more.
The other issue, Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano are currently under house arrest in their native Argentina, fighting an extradition request to the US on corruption charges. They are mentioned in correspondence between Mossack Fonseca and Damiani's law firm regarding an offshore company they owned called Cross Trading.
Cross Trading was originally incorporated in 1998, on the Pacific island of Niue. It then relocated to Nevada, USA in 2006 as Cross Trading LLC. The leaked papers list Hugo Jinkis as a beneficiary” of the company. The records suggest that Damiani's law firm provided services for Cross Trading while it was in Niue as well as in Nevada.
A spokesman for Damiani told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, prior to knowing he was under investigation, that he was not authorized to make statements while officials in Uruguay are investigating allegations of corruption related to FIFA.
He added that Damiani has taken a lead in reporting corrupt practices within FIFA to Uruguayan authorities and to FIFA's ethics committee.