UBS targeted as Fifa probe spreads to bank sector

The crisis at soccer’s global governing body continues to spread as authorities in Germany and Switzerland target banks and national sport associations for financial transactions linked to Fifa.

UBS targeted as Fifa probe spreads to bank sector

UBS Group said yesterday that it received inquiries from authorities about its banking relationships with Fifa officials days after rival Credit Suisse Group disclosed it was being questioned.

In Germany, prosecutors and police raided the country’s soccer association in a probe into a €6.7m payment to Fifa linked to the country’s application to host the 2006 World Cup.

UBS said the inquiries are about Fifa and “other constituent soccer associations”. The bank declined to name those bodies when it released the information in its third-quarter financial report.

The arrest in May of seven soccer officials in Zurich on the eve of Fifa’s congress and the indictment of seven others on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money-laundering has led to a widening series of investigations in Europe and the US.

In September, the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings into Fifa president Sepp Blatter over a $2m payment he made to European soccer chief Michel Platini.

Both men have said they did nothing illegal but were suspended by the football association for 90 days.

Several banks, including Zurich-based Julius Baer Group, started internal investigations after the US Justice Department named them in the May indictment.

In the UK, Standard Chartered, has said it is looking into two payments it cleared that were mentioned in the Fifa indictment. HSBC Holdings and Barclays are also studying transactions to ensure proper procedures were followed, the Sunday Times reported in May.

Credit Suisse said last week it is co-operating with US and Swiss investigations into whether financial institutions allowed the processing of suspicious transactions, or failed to observe anti-money laundering laws in their dealings with Fifa.

German prosecutors are looking at the current president of the soccer association as well as its leader in 2006, for aggravated tax evasion, said prosecutor spokeswoman Nadja Niesen.

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