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29 May, 2021 11:53

Swiss bank to pay almost $80MN fine after admitting to money laundering charges linked to bribery scheme of football officials

Swiss bank to pay almost $80MN fine after admitting to money laundering charges linked to bribery scheme of football officials

Julius Baer, the third largest bank in Switzerland, has been ordered to pay a fine of more than $40 million and forfeit another $36 million after being found to have laundered money which was paid as bribes to football officials.

The financial settlement comes amid an investigation by the US Department of Justice and is part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors after the DOJ said that the bank purposefully laundered cash through the US "to conceal the true nature of the payments and promote the fraud".

The scheme saw illegal payments issued by sports marketers to officials from both FIFA and South American governing body CONMEBOL in return for rights to broadcast football matches.

"Bank Julius Baer pursued the profit it could make laundering corrupt funds derived from a criminal scheme run by powerful FIFA officials," William F Sweeney Jr, of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement.

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"Their behavior has earned them the equivalent of a red card, and the money the bank now owes the US government is more than double what it admits to laundering."

Bank Julius Baer had engaged with the DOJ investigation since 2015 and, according to Reuters, reached an agreement to pay the financial settlement last November. The settlement fee also comes with a five percent reduction from what might have been expected under federal rules after the bank was given "some credit for its significant effort to remediate its compliance program."

"Bank Julius Baer aided corrupt FIFA officials in laundering over $36 million," added Special Agent Ryan L Korner, of the IRS' Criminal Investigation division.

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"Banking officials that are a conduit for criminal activity undermine their own profession and the health of our financial system."

Reports of the financial settlement come after several previous probes which also saw former Julius Baer banker Jorge Luis Arzuaga convicted of related conspiracy charges.

Julius Baer, meanwhile, also issued a statement saying they are pleased with the outcome of the investigation and will continue to work with relevant authorities.

"Julius Baer welcomes the final resolution of this legacy matter," they told Newsweek.

"This marks another step in Julius Baer's continued efforts to pursue the closure of remaining regulatory and legal matters in cooperation with the relevant authorities."

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