A trio of large UK-listed banks, with substantial international business links, are checking allegedly corrupt payments connected to the current scandal embroiling FIFA.
The banks, all which have substantial operations outside the UK (in the case of Standard Chartered, it earns the vast majority of its revenues in other regions such as Asia), are making the checks following last week’s arrest by Swiss authorities of FIFA officials. The allegations against FIFA have shocked the sporting and business world; the matter has also become a diplomatic source of friction. And by an ironic twist, the arrests, made at the behest of US authorities such as the Department of Justice, have seen the US work closely with counterparts in Switzerland, contrasting with the often acrimonious relations between the countries over Switzerland’s bank secrecy law.
A report in the Daily Telegraph said the three banks are reviewing transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which were cited by US prosecutors last week as they indicted seven FIFA officials over bribery and corruption claims.
The three banks are among more than a dozen named in the 164-page indictment, and there is no allegation of any wrongdoing from the institutions, the news report said.
However, they are understood to be reviewing the transactions as a precautionary measure to make sure they complied with anti-money laundering and "Know Your Customer" rules, it said.
The report said the transactions in question are:
A $200,000 payment from "Traffic", a multinational sports marketing company accused of bribery, from a Barclays branch in New York to a Barclays Cayman Islands account owned by Chuck Blazer, the former general secretary of CONCACAF, on March 29, 1999;
A $1.2m wire transfer from a Traffic bank account in Miami to a correspondent HSBC account in Buffalo, New York, which was then sent to a HSBC Hong Kong account of a front company for another co-conspirator on November 13, 2012;
Two wire transfers of $750,000 and $250,000 from the HSBC Hong Kong account to a New York account of Standard Chartered, for credit to a Cayman Islands account held by Kosson Ventures, a company controlled by Costas Takkas, the attaché to Fifa vice president Jeffrey Webb on November 21, 2012;
A $500,000 payment from another sports marketing company on December 5 2013 for credit to the HSBC account of a luxury yacht maker in London.
Barclays and HSBC have not commented on the matter, reports said. The DT quoted a Standard Chartered spokesperson as saying: "We are aware that two payments cleared by Standard Chartered are mentioned in the indictment. We are looking into those payments and will not be commenting further at this time."
In recent years HSBC and Standard Chartered have been punished by US regulators for breaches of AML regulations; the banks have invested in making improvements to their systems.