June 1 (Reuters) - Satellite TV company DirecTV said it is monitoring the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into corruption in world soccer to determine what actions might be necessary in relation to an affiliate at the center of the graft allegations.
U.S. prosecutors have accused Torneos y Competencias S.A, in which DirecTV has a stake, of participating in schemes to secure television rights to football games through bribery.
While stressing that it had a minority stake and had no management control of Torneos, DirectTV said in a statement: “We expect all businesses in which we have ownership interests to comply with established laws and regulations. We are following this matter closely to determine what, if any, actions will be appropriate.”
The indictment in the case against Alejandro Burzaco, the head of Torneos y Competencias, said the Argentina-headquartered company formed a joint venture called Datisa with two other companies which agreed to pay bribes of $110 million to football officials for TV rights to games in the Copa America, the main South American football tournament.
The DOJ alleges that bribes paid by Datisa were channeled through a Swiss bank account of a Torneos affiliate.
DirecTV, which is being bought by AT&T Inc for almost $50 billion, declined to say what, if anything, it knew about the details of the TV rights deals negotiated by Torneos.
DirecTV also declined to say how large its stake in Torneos is.
Bruce Churchill, head of DirecTV Latin America, told investors in a call in 2008 that DirecTV owned 30 percent and described the company as a “strategic partner.” Torneos appears in a list of “subsidiaries” in DirecTV’s most recent annual report.
The DOJ declined to comment.
Torneos y Competencias S.A. did not respond to a request for comment.
Reporting by Tom Bergin in London; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Buenos Aires; Editing by Martin Howell