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U.S. probes banks’ roles in FIFA marketing corruption scandal

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(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is examining banks’ conduct as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe of international soccer that has netted charges against 14 people, including officials with the sport’s organizing body.

Money involved in the two-decade-old bribery scheme passed through U.S. banks, helping give the country the right to pursue prosecutions against the foreign nationals involved and also to examine the role of the banks, acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie in Brooklyn told a news conference Wednesday.

“Our investigation is going to look at a broad area of conduct,” Currie said. “A lot of the banking institutions and the ways these moneys were funneled passed through the U.S.”

The U.S. unveiled charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracy against officials from the Federation Internationale de Football Association and sports marketing executives Wednesday following an early morning raid on a luxury Zurich hotel where some of the officials were arrested.

“They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest, and protect the integrity of the game,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the news conference. “Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves.”

Lynch said that “individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games; where the games would be held; and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide.”

Money Laundering

Investigators “exposed complex money laundering schemes” which included tens of millions of dollars in offshore entities in places such as Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands, said Richard Weber, chief of criminal investigation for the Internal Revenue Service.

Lynch said one FIFA official collected $10 million in bribes.

“This really is the World Cup of fraud and today we’re issuing FIFA a red card,” Weber said.

Although FIFA is based in Zurich, investigation of the corruption allegations at the organization is global, Currie said.

“We live in a global marketplace,” he said.