High rolling ex-FIFA exec at heart of DOJ probe
CHARGES laid out by the United States Department of Justice on 14 high-ranking FIFA officials may never have come to a head had it not been for the behind the scenes workings of former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer.
In 2011, after being confronted by the Internal Revenue Service in regards to unrecovered tax payments on the $20.6 million he received from FIFA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) started investigating Blazer’s involvement in the handling of over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks, spanning his two decades on the FIFA Executive Committee from 1996 until 2011.
The DOJ did not have to look far to see the kind of extravagant lifestyle Blazer had fallen into as a result of the alleged ill-gotten funds.
Living in a lux apartment on the 49th floor of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, Blazer’s $18,000-a-month rent alone is enough to ogle at.
Even more astounding was the fact that he also rented a neighbouring apartment in the same building, paying $6,000 per month to house an unlikely group of occupants: a collection of unruly cats.
That’s right. He was forking out $72,000 a year on an apartment for his cats.
But creating a private retreat for his feline friends was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to extravagant spending for Blazer, who lived a less than modest life during his time as secretary general of CONCACAF, the FIFA governing body for the US, Central America and the Caribbean.
USA Today claimed that along with houses in the Bahamas, New York and Miami, Blazer engulfed himself with famous friends, private jets, offshore bank accounts and a never ending supply of fine food and drink.
His indulgence even became so excessive that he eventually needed a fleet of mobility scooters to carry him around his Upper Queens neighbourhood.
Shortly after the start of the DOJ’s investigation, Blazer secretly pleaded guilty to personal tax evasion charges.
Facing up to 20 years behind bars, the Queens resident agreed to cooperate with the DOJ and assist with its investigation into a number of other high-ranking FIFA officials.
Despite resigning from the FIFA organisation in 2011, Blazer was still able to arrange meetings with current FIFA executives to gain information that would eventually lead to the 47-count indictment of some 14 officials on charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.
According to the LA Times, during the 2012 Olympics Blazer reportedly met with a group of FIFA officials, recording the conversation on a hidden microphone.
The recordings were then used as key evidence in formulating the arrests on Wednesday morning.
The 70-year-old is reportedly suffering from colon cancer.