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Categorized | Insurance

Credit Suisse under scrutiny over Fifa

Posted on October 30, 2015


Credit Suisse has become the first global bank to declare it has been contacted by US and Swiss authorities over alleged corruption at Fifa and asked about its relationships with individuals at football’s governing body.

The Swiss bank, one of more than 20 lenders in a US indictment against Fifa for handling allegedly corrupt payments, said in its quarterly results report that it was co-operating with authorities.

    “The US and Swiss authorities are investigating whether multiple financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, permitted the processing of suspicious or otherwise improper transactions, or failed to observe anti-money laundering laws and regulations, with respect to the accounts of certain persons and entities associated with Fifa,” the bank said.

    However, a person familiar with the matter played down the significance of the statement by Credit Suisse, saying that it was a “routine disclosure” by the bank of “an industry-wide fact-finding process” by regulators.

    The person added that the bank had not received a “target letter” from US regulators, which are used to request that a person or institution provide testimony, advising them of their rights and informing them that they are a target of an investigation.

    Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the presidents of Fifa and Uefa, were suspended from their roles at the beginning of October after a SFr2m payment in 2011 from Fifa to Mr Platini was reported to the authorities by UBS.

    The indictment unsealed by the US Department of Justice in May mentioned more than 20 banks used by nine Fifa officials and five sports industry executives to transfer and receive alleged bribes, including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Julius Baer, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America.

    None of the banks was accused of wrongdoing, but the indictments said the Fifa officials had “relied heavily on the United States financial system in connection with the enterprise”. Investigators also said they were looking at whether the banks were aware that they were helping to transfer bribe payments.

    The DoJ said in a statement: “All told, the soccer officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150m in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.”

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    At the time, Citi said it had been co-operating with the DoJ, UBS said it routinely co-operated with law enforcement agencies and JPMorgan, Bank of America, HSBC and Julius Baer declined to comment. JPMorgan and BofA did not mention the Fifa scandal in their recent quarterly reports.

    This month a report in the Handelszeitung newspaper claimed that Julius Baer had launched an internal investigation into its links with Fifa and that several Fifa officials held accounts at the bank. It also said Julius Baer was co-operating with the authorities. The Swiss private bank said the report contained some “wrong statements” but did not specify which part of the report it was disputing.

    Credit Suisse last year pleaded guilty to charges that it helped clients evade US taxes and agreed to pay a $2.6bn penalty. This year it appointed Tidjane Thiam from UK insurer Prudential to take over as its chief executive from Brady Dougan. Shares in the bank were down slightly at SFr24.77 on Friday morning.