NEW YORK: Grupo Televisa SAB has reached a US$95 million settlement to resolve a US investor lawsuit accusing the Mexican broadcaster of bribing FIFA soccer officials to win rights to four World Cup tournaments.
The all-cash preliminary settlement with holders of Televisa’s American depositary receipts (ADRs) was filed late Tuesday night in Manhattan federal court, and requires a judge’s approval.
Televisa was accused of artificially inflating its ADR price by concealing how it schemed to obtain World Cup rights for 2018, 2022, 2026, and 2030 through bribery, while publicly touting its commitment to ethical business practices. FIFA is soccer’s world governing body.
Investors said they suffered losses as the bribery became known during corruption trials in Brooklyn, New York, causing the ADR price to fall.
Televisa denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. It did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.
The lead plaintiff is the Palm Tran Inc Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1577 Pension Plan of Atlanta.
Its law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner may seek up to US$28.5 million of the settlement in fees and US$3.5 million for expenses.
The US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn unveiled its probe into international soccer corruption in 2015.
More than 40 defendants have been criminally charged, and at least 31 have pleaded guilty.
Three defendants, former 21st Century Fox executives Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez and Argentine sports marketing company Full Play Group SA, are on trial in Brooklyn.
Two other defendants, former Brazilian soccer chief Jose Maria Marin and former CONMEBOL head Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, were convicted at trial in 2017.