DOJ Puts Ex-Fox Executives On Trial In Fraud Scheme

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Two former executives at a Fox company are on trial in federal court in New York City over corruption allegations from the Justice Department over their claimed connections to Fox corruptly obtaining the broadcasting rights for high-profile sports matches.

The defendants include Hernán López and Carlos Martínez, who were executives at what was known as Fox International Channels but which now is no longer part of the main Fox operation. Alejandro Burzaco, who previously pleaded guilty to his own corruption charges, has spoken to personal knowledge on both men’s parts of bribes provided in service of obtaining the rights, a point upon which prosecutors have also insisted, and Burzaco relatedly testified in court this week. A firm where Burzaco was in leadership partnered with Fox in sports endeavors, and Burzaco says he obtained information from an executive at FIFA outlining the kind of bid Fox should submit to receive broadcasting rights to what included the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. Burzaco said he reached out to this now deceased soccer executive after López explicitly asked him to do so in a way that, in the witness’s telling, suggested the then-executive was after covert help.

Burzaco’s revelations have even reached Rupert Murdoch, who then was among those still leading the corporate entities overseeing Fox International Channels. The witness said Murdoch was among those thrilled at Fox successfully obtaining years of broadcasting rights to the World Cup in agreements with FIFA. The bidding opened all the way back in late 2011, years before a high-profile sale of a series of Fox business entities to Disney.

According to reporting in The New York Times, it appears broadcasting rights previously acquired by a Fox business entity for the World Cup were far from the only point of contention for prosecutors. Also at issue have been rights to broadcast South American soccer tournaments known as the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana, acquisitions also allegedly connected to bribes to officials. Fox itself doesn’t presently face legal jeopardy from the ongoing proceedings, although the scope of the scheme to which a Fox entity was connected is huge. Burzaco has said he paid at least $160 million in bribes across more than a decade.

Elsewhere, Fox itself continues facing court challenges over its role in promoting lies about the role Dominion Voting Systems, which is an election technology company used back in 2020, had in imaginary systematic fraud during the 2020 presidential race. Murdoch himself went under oath for a deposition connected to that litigation this week, as numerous other high-profile figures, ranging from Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to host Sean Hannity, have done. Hannity evidently indicated in questioning that he never personally believed the claims of a stolen election — which leads to questions about why he nonetheless hosted in what evidently were generally approving terms Sidney Powell after the 2020 race concluded. On air, Powell pushed some of her familiar nonsense. Hannity’s comments could help Dominion prove Fox acted despite knowing the accusations to be false or with reckless disregard for the relevant truth, as that’s defined in the controlling legal standards.