Televisa has been sued by shareholders for purportedly taking part in a corruption scheme to win broadcast rights to the FIFA World Cup through millions of dollars in bribes.
The complaint, filed late Tuesday in federal court in New York, claims that the Mexican media giant paid bribes through a subsidiary in exchange for rights to 2018, 2022, 2026, and 2030 editions of the FIFA World Cup.
Members in the Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan, which owns shares of Televisa traded on the New York Stock Exchange, allege that they were swindled and that investors lost “Hundreds of millions of dollars” on account of the scheme.
According to the suit, Televisa used a Swiss-based subsidiary, Mountrigi Management Group, to pay bribes to high-ranking FIFA officials to win the coveted rights to the enormously popular soccer tournament, which Televisa executives have described as “An event that we have to have” in calls with investors and analysts.
The suit claims, Televisa connived with Brazilian media giant Grupo Globo as well as Argentine firm Torneos y Competencias in 2013 to pay a total of $15 million in bribes to former FIFA executive Julio Grondona for rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cup all over Latin America.
In late January, the Mexican media giant presented a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission noting “Material weaknesses in the company’s internal control over financial reporting” – a strange admission that plaintiffs in the case believe relates to the World Cup rights bribery scheme.
Starting in October, Televisa shares have suffered quick declines based on the charges of corruption related to its purchase of World Cup rights, losses that the plaintiffs allege cost investors “Hundreds of millions of dollars.”