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FIFA sponsor Visa calls for independent reform board

New York State is also probing banks over FIFA-related accounts

Published: Updated:

FIFA sponsor Visa Inc. called Thursday for an independent commission to be formed to clean up world soccer’s scandal-ridden governing body, the Associated Press reported.

The credit card company joined fellow sponsor Coca-Cola in asking for the commission to consist of “impartial leaders” to ensure the reforms are credible.

FIFA is reeling from the indictment of 14 people - including two now-ousted vice presidents who were arrested in Zurich - in an American investigation into alleged racketeering, bribery and money laundering in soccer.

Visa CEO Charles Scharf said on the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday that FIFA’s responses to the scandal “are wholly inadequate and continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed.”

He said the company believes no meaningful progress can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.

“We view the stewardship of our company, our brands and our clients with the utmost importance and try to hold ourselves to the highest standards,” Scharf said. “We seek to partner with those who think and act like us. I don’t believe that FIFA is living up to these standards.”

In an emailed statement, FIFA said it values the input of its commercial affiliates as the organization cooperates with the investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities.

“FIFA’s goal is to achieve the highest standards of governance and accountability for the international football community,” said spokeswoman Delia Fischer.

New York state probes banks

New York state’s banking regulator has contacted more than six banks about how they may have handled money that U.S. prosecutors said was laundered through accounts related to world soccer’s governing body FIFA, according to a person familiar with the matter, Reuters reported.

Among the banks were Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse,, Standard Chartered and Barclays Plc,, said the person, who requested anonymity because the investigation was not publicly announced.

The source said the New York Department of Financial Services was looking into whether the banks followed rules and regulations regarding anti-money laundering compliance.

The person also said that it was too early to say whether there was any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the banks include HSBC, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Israel’s Bank Hapoalim.

Agence France-Presse said Rob Sherman, a spokesman for HSBC Holdings in New York, also confirmed aspects of the probe in an emailed statement. “We are continuing to review the allegations in the indictments against certain Fifa executives and others, to ensure that our services are not being misused for financial crime,” he said.

Representatives of Standard Chartered and Barclays declined to comment on Thursday. Representatives of Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse could not immediately be reached for comment.

The New York state investigation was parallel to the federal probe, the person familiar with the matter said.

The investigation of the banks was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Nine former and current officials of Zurich-based FIFA and five sports marketing or broadcasting executives were indicted in federal court in Brooklyn, New York on May 27 on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges dating back 24 years.

Kelly T. Currie, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is handling the case, said when the indictments were announced that bank actions would be reviewed to see if financial institutions knowingly facilitated bribes.

The banks concerned were not accused of wrongdoing.


(With agencies)