FIFA Money Laundering Warning Issued To UK Corporates And Individuals

Lawyer Comments On Possible Implications Of FIFA Investigations

11.06.2015

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Businesses and individuals with connections in the UK which have engaged with FIFA or its agents to acquire media and marketing rights should urgently investigate the basis upon which they were obtained, says a leading lawyer at national law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The warning follows the news at the end of May 2015 that seven of FIFA’s official had been arrested as part of a US investigation into bribery and corruption. Since then there have been a number of significant developments including the announcement by FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, that he is to resign. In Switzerland a criminal investigation in connection with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments has been launched and FIFA is to suspend bidding for the 2026 event.

Expert Opinion
“Whilst there is a lot of conjecture about whether alleged bribery or corruption offences have been committed under the UK’s criminal jurisdiction, it would be wise to consider whether the money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) may be triggered.

“If media and marketing rights were acquired by sports marketing companies through conduct that is recognised as a criminal offence in the UK, for example the payment of a bribe, then those ‘rights’ may constitute criminal property.

“If sponsors, sub-licensees or TV networks with connections to the UK acquired the rights or became involved in an arrangement connected to those rights knowing or suspecting that the rights may have been acquired through criminal conduct, whether in the UK or overseas, then providing there is a jurisdictional link to the UK under POCA, there is a risk that prosecution agencies might allege that money laundering offences may have been committed by corporates or individuals.

“In my opinion, it would be prudent for those with connections in the UK who have engaged with FIFA or its agents to investigate the basis upon which any rights or property were obtained.”
Sarah Wallace, Partner