Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. (BJB), a Swiss bank with international operations, has confessed to its involvement in a bribery and money laundering scheme of over $36 million. The scheme was to bribe soccer officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and other soccer federations so sports marketing companies could get broadcasting rights to soccer matches. Entering into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement, BJB will pay more than $79 million in penalties ($43,320,000 in fine and $36,368,400 to be forfeited).
During 2013-15, BJB, through a former relationship manager Jorge Luis Arzuaga, conspired with sports marketing executives to launder over $36 million through the US in bribes to soccer officials in exchange of broadcasting rights to soccer matches. BJB laundered the money through accounts at the bank to hide the true purpose of these transactions.
During the period of this crime, BJB’s AML controls were unable to identify and prevent these bribery-related money laundering transactions. However, BJB was admittedly aware that the bank accounts of Arzuaga’s clients were related to international soccer, a high-corruption-risk area. Still, a BJB executive expedited the opening of these accounts to gain business benefits.
The authorities decided upon BJB’s penalty based on various factors, such as BJB’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct, the fact that BJB played an important part in this scheme for over two years, the BJB’s previous history of crime, and BJB’s failure to cooperate with the authorities’ investigation. The only point in favor of the BJB was that it implemented significant measures to improve its AML compliance program. Accordingly, the authorities deducted 5% from the total criminal penalty.
Source: US Department of Justice