The US has asked Switzerland to extradite the seven FIFA officials arrested in raids on a hotel in Zurich in May. The seven, who include three current and former members of FIFA's executive committee, are fighting the extradition request. If they are prosecuted and convicted in the US, they each face up to 20 years in jail.
Meanwhile the lack of coverage of the FIFA scandal does not seem to have been noted by the game's fans: representatives from the organisation who attended the Women's World Cup final in Canada on Sunday were subjected to booing and jeering. The predominantly American crowd – there to see their side beat Japan 5-2 – made their feelings about the scandal engulfing football known when FIFA dignitaries were invited onto the field to present the trophy.
The organisation's president, Sepp Blatter, chose not to travel to Canada, conceding that he was not going to take any 'risks' until the investigation is completed. Also absent was Jeffery Webb, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) president, who is detained in Switzerland and subject to the US's extradition move.
The FIFA brand remains tainted
Despite the generally positive coverage the Women's World Cup received, it is clear that the FIFA brand remains tainted. Several major banks are still investigating whether payments totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds passed through their accounts on the way to senior FIFA officials accused of corruption. None of these banks have been accused of impropriety but investigations have once again highlighted the need for financial institutions and other organisations to ensure they comply with regulations on money laundering and bribery.
Extradition moves by the FBI and the US Department of Justice demonstrate that international borders do not provide any protection against bribery and corruption investigations. Companies in the UK are just as liable as US-based firms when it comes to compliance if they enter into joint ventures or acquire foreign businesses and only enhanced due diligence can ensure that risks are minimised.
First line of defence against risk
When working overseas, a robust due diligence process, coupled with training and support for staff in compliance procedures, is the only way companies can provide a firm first line of defence against the risk of inadvertent embroilment in corruption, bribery or money laundering accusations.
That risk is growing even without the FIFA scandal: last year a third of the prosecutions under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) were brought against non-US companies or practices that took place outside America.
Through its actions against FIFA – an organisation responsible for a sport which continues to have limited appeal stateside – and investigations into foreign firms working on other major events like the Olympics, the US has clearly shown that bribery and corruption will be pursued vigorously no matter where those involved are domiciled.
- FIFA corruption raids demonstrate important lessons for global businesses
- Five steps to avoid a FIFA-like final whistle
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