Sportswear giant Adidas has been dealt a huge reputational blow, with its global head of sports marketing being found guilty of fraud.
James Gatto (pictured above) was convicted of fraud by a federal jury in the US, after a year-long investigation into Adidas allegedly paying high-school basketball players and their families as a way of persuading them to go to schools where it was a sponsor.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Gatto was found guilty of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the University of Louisville and wire fraud in connection with the University of Kansas.
An Adidas consultant has also been found guilty of two counts of fraud.
In a statement to the media, an Adidas spokesperson said: “We co-operated fully with the authorities during the course of the investigation and respect the jury’s verdict.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the NCAA and other stakeholders in a collaborative and constructive manner to improve the environment around college basketball.
“We have strengthened our internal processes and controls and remain committed to ethical and fair business practices.”
Adidas has declined to reveal how this will impact Gatto’s employment.