On December 21, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced that it would ban its embattled President, Sepp Blatter, and Vice President, Michel Platini, from all football-related activities for eight years. The ban was imposed as a result of an investigation into a payment of $2 million from FIFA to Platini in 2011 that was authorized by Blatter. The Ethics Committee’s statement on their decision stated that the payment was made without a legal basis. Platini is currently the head of UEFA, the governing body of European football. News reports state that it was widely anticipated that Platini would be elected President of FIFA in the upcoming 2016 election, but he has now withdrawn his candidacy following the Ethics Committee’s decision. Click here to view prior InfoBytes coverage on FIFA.
On January 8, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office announced that a printing company specializing in official documents such as election ballots was ordered to pay penalties totaling £2.2 million following its 2014 conviction under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The SFO’s announcement regarding the sentencing stated that its investigation began in 2010 and centered on £395,074 in corrupt payments made to foreign officials in Kenya and Mauritania. Two of the company’s former employees, also convicted in connection with the same investigation, were ordered to pay penalties totaling over £20,000.
On December 10, the DOJ announced three unsealed indictments of a total of 20 defendants in connection with various money laundering schemes. Fifteen of the defendants were arrested and taken into custody, while the remaining individuals are still being sought by authorities.
The first indictment alleges that the former president and CEO of an Orange County, California bank and five other individuals, as members of a narcotics trafficking and international money laundering organization, violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by participating in schemes to launder drug proceeds. According to the DOJ, the former bank official used his position, insider knowledge, and connections to “promote and facilitate money laundering transactions involving members and associates of the enterprise.” The DOJ alleges that the six defendants (i) arranged to convert purported drug proceeds, in the form of cash provided by an undercover informant, into cashier’s checks made out to a company the informant claimed to own; (ii) proposed to an informant that the informant and his boss purchase a controlling interest in the Orange County bank to more easily facilitate money laundering operations; and (iii) proposed to set up a foundation in Liechtenstein to be used, in part, to launder the informant’s drug sale proceeds. Read more…
DOJ Charges 16 Additional Individuals with FIFA-Related Corruption; Swiss Authorities Arrest Two High-Ranking FIFA Members
On December 3, the DOJ charged an additional 16 individuals in connection with its ongoing corruption investigation into FIFA. The new indictment included a number of high ranking FIFA members, including Alfredo Hawit, the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and vice-president of FIFA, and Juan Angel Napout, the president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and a member of the FIFA executive committee. Both of these individuals were arrested by Swiss authorities in Zurich and are opposing extradition to the United States.
With the additional 16 individuals, a total of 41 people and entities have been charged as part of the DOJ’s ongoing investigation.
FinCrimes Webinar Series Recap: The Role of Corruption Risk in a Financial Crimes Compliance Program
BuckleySandler hosted a webinar, The Role of Corruption Risk in a Financial Crimes Compliance Program: What are Banks Doing to Detect Corruption in the Wake of the FIFA Scandal?, on September 24, 2015 as part of their ongoing FinCrimes Webinar Series. Panelists included Thomas Coupe, EMEA Global Financial Crimes at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Compliance; Gaon Hart, Global Anti-Bribery & Corruption Policy and Education Lead at HSBC; and Denisse Rudich, Financial Crimes Compliance Specialist at Firedrake Consulting. The following is a summary of the guided conversation moderated by Jamie Parkinson, partner at BuckleySandler, and key take-aways you can implement in your company.
Best Practice Tips and Take-Aways:
- Corruption risk for a financial services firm is presented both directly and indirectly. Corruption risk is presented directly when an employee or third parties acting on behalf of an institution act in a way that implicated anti-corruption laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.K. Bribery Act or another anti-corruption law. Corruption risk is presented indirectly when a customer seeks to use a financial institution for a corrupt deal or to hold or transmit funds associated with a corrupt scheme.
- It is important to have one person your organization can look to when an anti-corruption concern arises. This person should serve as the point of contact for your regulators and have the ability to quickly escalate concerns to senior management and the board of directors.
- New customers with past corruption issues present special challenges. Be sure that your onboarding and due diligence processes are able to identify and evaluate these concerns.
- Bear in mind that corruption risk management also requires looking at your organization internally. This means examining your own employees for conflicts issues, evaluating your organization’s sponsorships and donations, and performing due diligence on your third-party suppliers.
- Effective anti-corruption risk management requires cultivating a culture within your organization that supports your efforts. This is an area that regulators are increasingly interested in.