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US probes banks in FIFA scandal: sources

24 july 2015, 11:33

US regulators are probing large banks including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and HSBC over their possible handling of tainted funds in the FIFA corruption scandal, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday, AFP reports.

Investigators with the Department of Justice and New York's Department of Financial Services are focusing, in separate investigations, on whether banks' internal controls, including those against money laundering, failed to spot questionable payments by figures in the scandal involving top officials of soccer's world governing body.

Other banks in the probes include Barclays, Standard Chartered, Israel's Bank Hapoalim, and New York-based Delta National Bank, according to the sources.

Rob Sherman, a spokesman for HSBC Holdings in New York, confirmed aspects of the probe in an emailed statement.

"We are continuing to review the allegations in the indictments against certain FIFA executives and others, to ensure that our services are not being misused for financial crime," he told AFP.

Meanwhile Visa, the US credit card issuer and a major sponsor of global soccer, expressed a lack of confidence in FIFA's leadership on Thursday and called for an independent commission to help reform the body.

Visa chief executive Charlie Scharf said in a statement that FIFA's responses to the corruption allegations "continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed."

"Two things need to happen to ensure credible reform," Scharf said.

"First, an independent, third-party commission led by one or more impartial leaders is critical to formulate reforms. Second, we believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA's existing leadership."

FIFA has been under scrutiny since Swiss police raided a luxury hotel in Zurich on May 27 to make arrests in a sprawling corruption probe of the international soccer body. 

US authorities have charged 14 people in all -- soccer officials and sports business executives -- over more than $150 million in bribes paid to secure television and marketing contracts for football tournaments.

Swiss authorities are in parallel investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

In the wake of the scandal, non-government activists have called for tough scrutiny of large banks, arguing that they turned a blind eye to evidence of illegal payments.

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