US authorities are questioning a host of global banks over their role in handling bribes to executives of football's global governing body Fifa, and the effectiveness of their anti-money laundering systems.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the US Attorney in Brooklyn and the financial regulator in New York have separately questioned six banks in connection to the ongoing corruption case against Fifa officials who stand accused of handling more than $150 million in bribes.
The US authorities allege that illegal payments were concealed using numbered bank accounts in tax havens, and employing trading intermediaries and currency dealers. They are now looking to ask banks whether their AML systems should have raised red flags and identified suspicious transactions.
The New York State Department of Financial Services has contacted six banks including Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse and Israel-based Bank Hapoalim, while the Brooklyn investigation has involved HSBC and Delta National Bank.
An HSBC spokesperson told the WSJ that "we are continuing to review the allegations in the indictments...to ensure that our services aren't being misused for financial crime".
Both Standard Chartered and HSBC are currently involved in deferred prosecution agreements with US authorities for previous failings in anti-money laundering controls and financial sanctions, whereby any penalties are put off on the condition that the two banks improve their systems and controls.
Meanwhile, Fifa sponsor Visa has hit out at the organisation's handling of the corruption case. In a conference call Visa chief Charlie Scharf, said: "We view the stewardship of our company, our brand, and our clients with the utmost importance and try to hold ourselves to the highest standards.
"We seek to partner with those who think and act like us. I don’t believe that Fifa is living up to these standards. Furthermore, their subsequent responses are wholly inadequate and continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed.
"We believe two things need to happen to ensure credible reform. 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. Football itself is a great sport with which we are proud to be associated. We want to be proud to be associated with Fifa and hope and look forward to working with them to that end."