Paris Saint-Germain chairman and beIN Media Group chief executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi was in talks to buy one of the companies accused of bribery in South America, a court in New York City has heard during the ongoing trial of three former officials accused of corruption.
Al-Khelaifi, the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland relating to rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, was in secret negotiations to purchase Argentina-based company Full Play, according to testimony given at the trial.
The claim was made by Santiago Pena, a former financial executive at Full Play, who is acting as a Government witness, as the trial of former South American Football Confederation President and ex-FIFA vice-president Juan Angel Napout, ex-Brazilian Football Confederation head Jose Maria Marin and former Peruvian Football Federation President Manuel Burga continued in Brooklyn.
Pena claimed Al-Khelaifi was hoping to buy out Full Play, owned by Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, both been indicted by prosecutors in the widespread corruption scandal but who remain in Argentina.
The deal, which Pena claimed was kept confidential within the company, for the Qatari to purchase Full Play was scrapped when the the owners were indicted.
Al-Khelaifi had offered to purchase 51 per cent of Full Play, with the option of an additional 19 per cent, for $212 million (£160 million/€180 million).
The deal was called the "New York Project", Pena alleged, in a reference to the Manhattan 212 area code.
A spokesperson for beIN confirmed the talks had taken place in a statement sent to the New York Times.
The revelation came on another troubling day for the three officials standing trial in front of United States District Judge Pamela Chen.
As well as unveiling details of Al-Khelaifi's attempt to buy Full Play, Pena also claimed he had paid bribes to Napout, Marin and Burga.
The witness outlined a scheme of payments to the three officials and others, given code names of car manufacturers.
Pena said Burga, previously accused of intimidating a previous witness with a cut-throat gesture in court, was "Fiat", while money given to Napout was "Honda".
"We basically decided to make up fantasy names for each of the people involved," Pena told the court.
US prosecutors accuse the defendants of participating in schemes involving more than $200 million (£152 million/€173 million) in bribes and kickbacks, both sought and received by officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.
This includes the major South American tournaments, the Copa América and the Copa Libertadores, as well as the Brazilian domestic tournament Copa do Brasil.
The defendants claim they have been falsely accused, alleging the US Government have relied on the testimony of other FIFA officials, who have cooperated with authorities to reduce their own sentences.
The trial is expected to last around six weeks.