By Samindra Kunti
May 28 – Swiss bank Julius Baer has been fined $80 million by the U.S. Department of Justice for its role in FIFAGate, the scandal that rocked world football in 2015.
In November, the bank took a provision of nearly $80 million on its books to cover what it expected to pay in fines after agreeing in principle with the U.S. Department of Justice to a deferred prosecution agreement, in which federal prosecutors compelled the bank to pay a criminal fine and forfeiture of about $80 million for money laundering conspiracy charges related to bribes involving FIFA.
As a result, Julius Baer will not face not face trial or criminal punishment in the case as long as the bank abides by the terms of the agreement for the next 42 months. Baer is Switzerland’s third largest bank.
The DOJ said Thursday that Julius Baer admitted knowing that the accounts of certain clients “were associated with international football, which was generally understood to involve high corruption risks.”
“Nevertheless, a [bank] executive directed the opening of these accounts be fast tracked in the hope that these clients would provide lucrative business,” said the DOJ in a press release.
A bank official, representing Julius Baer in the virtual proceeding, however pleaded not guilty in the case and told court that the bank was agreeing to the deferred prosecution deal.
“Today’s resolution sends a strong message to all banks and other financial institutions that if they knowingly misuse our financial system to hide their clients’ criminal proceeds or to promote a corrupt scheme, they will be held to account,” said Nicholas McQuaid, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s criminal division. “From the time of the first FIFA-related indictment, the department has promised to hold accountable the financial institutions involved in this global criminal scheme. We are delivering on that promise.”
“Burzaco and co-conspirators agreed to pay approximately $30 million to the senior vice president of FIFA, who was also the president of the Asociación del Fútbol Argentina, for his support in the award of regional broadcasting rights to the 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 editions of the World Cup,” said the DOJ.
The DOJ also said that Burzaco’s company agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to bribe officials in the South American football federation Conmebol “for the rights to the Copa América tournament (including the 2015, 2019 and 2023 editions of the tournament and the 2016 Copa América Centenario, a commemorative centennial edition of the tournament played at stadiums across the United States).”
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