Six Caribbean banks implicated in FIFA corruption scandal

FIFALogo-1Port of Spain, Trinidad — According to the 166-page indictment in United States vs. Jeffrey Webb, et al, in which many senior FIFA officials and others are charged with multiple counts of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud involving $150 million, six Caribbean banks are listed as having completed wire transfers of large sums of money for the defendants.

The regional banks listed in the indictment are:

First Caribbean International Bank (Bahamas)
Barclays Bank (Cayman Islands)
Fidelity Bank (Cayman Islands)
First Citizens Bank (Trinidad and Tobago)
Intercommercial Bank (Trinidad and Tobago)
Republic Bank (Trinidad and Tobago)

None of the banks has been charged with any crime, or regulatory violation.
However, according to the indictment, a representative of FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB) in The Bahamas, where Co-Conspirator #1, identified as the general secretary at the time of CONCACAF (which can only have been Chuck Blazer) held an account, flew to New York, landing at Kennedy Airport.

After arriving, the bank representative took custody of a cheque for US$250,000 drawn on an account held in the name of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.

The bank’s representative subsequently traveled to The Bahamas and, on or about May 3, 2011, deposited the cheque into Co-Conspirator #1’s account.

There is no explanation as to why FCIB would offer this kind of personalised service in relation to the collection and depositing of what on the face of it must have been questionable funds and/or circumstances. It is not known if FCIB ever filed a suspicious activity report in relation to this or other related transactions.

On Friday, the Bankers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago stated that it remains committed to working with local and foreign regulators and law enforcement agencies as the investigation progresses.

“The Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) has taken note of the fact that certain local commercial banks have been named in the indictment raised against the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner,” the association said in a release.

“BATT wishes to acknowledge that banks, as responsible corporate bodies, are committed to co-operating fully with regulatory and law enforcement agencies when engaged on matters of a regulatory, legal and/or criminal nature,” it noted.

Warner, who is a former FIFA vice-president, was indicted in New York last Wednesday and was arrested the same day in Trinidad pending extradition to the US. He is currently free on TT$2.5 million (US$395,000) bail.

Under the treaty between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, the US now has 60 days to produce a formal request for Warner’s extradition.

Meanwhile, three British banks have launched internal reviews of transactions linked to allegedly corrupt payments by FIFA officials outlined in the US indictment.

The banks – Standard Chartered, Barclays and HSBC – are understood to be looking into the details of payments after they were cited in the indictment.

The three banks are not accused of any wrongdoing the reviews are said to be in part to ensure that they have complied with anti-money laundering and bribery rules.

In a statement, Standard Chartered said: “We are aware that two payments cleared by Standard Chartered are mentioned in the indictment. We are looking into those payments.”

Neither Barclays nor HSBC commented on the matter.

Any suggestion that their global networks have been used to facilitate illicit wire transfers will be a source of concern to the banks after a series of large fines imposed by US regulators in other cases. HSBC and Standard Chartered have been hit by penalties totalling $3 billion between them in the last three years for infringements relating to money laundering or breaching sanctions.

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