Bank Hapoalim agrees to pay over $30 million for role in FIFA scandal - DOJ

  • Football
  • Friday, 01 May 2020

FILE PHOTO: The logo of FIFA is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bank Hapoalim B.M. agreed to pay more than $30 million (23.8 million pounds) for its role in the money laundering conspiracy surrounding FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

The Israeli bank and its Swiss subsidiary admitted they, through employees, conspired to launder over $20 million in bribes and kickbacks to soccer officials with Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and other soccer federations, the DOJ said in its statement.

The agreement between the U.S. government and the bank is the latest development to spring from a sprawling corruption probe unveiled in 2015. The firm admitted that from December 2010 to February 2015, bank employees agreed to launder bribes and kickbacks, which were given in exchange for broadcasting rights for sports marketing executives, U.S. prosecutors said.

"For nearly five years, Bank Hapoalim employees used the U.S. financial system to launder tens of millions of dollars in bribe payments to corrupt soccer officials in multiple countries," Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in Thursday's statement.

Bank executives admitted they allowed the illicit activity to continue even after employees reported it, according to the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation. As part of the deal, U.S. prosecutors have agreed they will not prosecute the bank for three years in return for cooperation from the bank and other remedial efforts, the DOJ said.

A lawyer for Bank Hapoalim did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)

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