Adidas marketing executives collared in US basketball bribery investigation

Adidas marketing executives snared in US basketball bribery investigation

Two Adidas marketing executives are among a group of 10 individuals to be arrested following an investigation by the US Department of Justice into an alleged college Basketball bribery ring.

The individuals have all been charged with multiple counts of fraud at top flight schools with Adidas sponsorships; amid suggestions that Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto and his subordinate Merl Code, offered bribes to players and their families on the understanding that they would attend schools sponsored by Adidas and sign contracts when they turned professional.

Gato and Code are alleged to have siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from NCAA Division 1 schools to at least three players using ‘a sham purchase order and invoice’ system in order to justify the illicit expenditure

Facilitating these illegal activities were four NCAA assistant coaches, a clothing company founder and three athletic advisers.

In a statement Adidas wrote: “Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee,” wrote a company spokesperson. “We are learning more about the situation. We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more.”

The full litany of charges include bribery, solicitation of bribes, wire fraud conspiracy, honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud – with those in the dock facing potential sentences of as much as 200 years.

Arch-rival Nike, for whom Code also worked, has seen its basketball business boom on the back of higher than anticipated revenue growth.

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