Ecuador has announced its intent to prosecute several soccer officials on money laundering charges, the latest domino to fall after a 2015 US indictment of FIFA officials set off a chain reaction of corruption investigations across the region.
Ecuador's Attorney General's Office announced via Twitter that executives from the Ecuadorian Soccer Federation (Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol – FEF) implicated in corruption investigations would be tried on money laundering charges, reported El Universo.
The case, known locally as Ecuafútbol, has implicated three top FEF officials, including the organization's president, Luis Chiriboga Acosta, and secretary, Francisco Acosta.
Since June 2015, Ecuador's Attorney General's Office has been investigating corruption in the FEF, reported El Universo. Money laundering investigations into the three executives began in December 2015 after the US Attorney General's Office indicted 16 Latin American soccer officials, including Chiriboga, on corruption charges.
The announcement came as prosecutors from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru met in Guayaquil, Ecuador on February 15 to discuss the results of their respective countries' investigations into soccer corruption.
According to a press release from Ecuador's Attorney General's Office, the prosecutors agreed to the possibility of creating joint investigative teams, due to the common challenges authorities in each country facing tackling soccer corruption.
InSight Crime Analysis
As the US Attorney General's 2015 indictments of FIFA officials brought to light, the mixing of corruption, money laundering, and soccer is a well-worn pattern across Latin America. Indeed, of the 14 officials originally indicted in May by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 12 were from Latin America.
To date, over two dozen Central and South American officials have been charged by the DOJ, setting off a domino effect of corruption investigations into soccer officials across the region. In June 2015, Paraguayan legislators even discussed stripping the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) of immunity from investigation at its headquarters in the city of Luque.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer Crime
Such investigations have increasingly turned attention to the use of soccer clubs throughout the region as a means of moving illicit cash. For instance, in October 2015, Yankel Rosenthal, president of Honduran club Marathon, was arrested by US authorities in Miami and subequently indicted on money laundering charges.
But prosecutors meeting in Ecuador said they will need assistance from the United States to fully flesh out investigations. For instance, Ecuador Attorney General's Office tweeted it has been unsuccessful thus far in receiving information from the United States to aid its investigations.