Tag Archives: International soccer

Swiss bank penalized over alleged FIFA, Venezuela corruption

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Switzerland’s financial market authority has penalized Julius Baer bank for violating its obligations to combat money laundering over a nearly nine-year span

GENEVA —
Switzerland’s financial market authority has penalized Julius Baer bank for violating its obligations to fight money laundering over a nearly nine-year span.

The sanctions are related to alleged corruption linked to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and global soccer body FIFA.

The authority, known as FINMA, cited Julius Baer for a “serious infringement of financial market law” and barred it from carrying out “large and complex acquisitions until it once again fully complies with the law.”

The bank was also ordered to revamp its hiring and management of client advisers, and adjust its remuneration and disciplinary procedures.

“FINMA has instructed Julius Baer to undertake effective measures to comply with its legal obligations in combating money laundering and rapidly finalise the measures it has already started putting in place,” the authority wrote in announcing the closure of the probe of the bank. “The Board of Directors must also give greater attention to its AML (anti-money laundering) responsibilities.”

The Zurich-based bank, which had 426 million Swiss francs (dollars) of assets under management at the end of 2019, said it “takes note” of the decision. The bank said it cooperated “extensively” with the authority, and that “the identified deficiencies have been addressed.”

The authority’s investigators unearthed “systematic failings” in the application of Swiss anti-money laundering law, turning up irregularities in “almost all of the 70 business relationships” that were selected due to their risk. The “vast majority” of over 150 transactions examined also showed irregularities, FINMA said.

Julius Baer didn’t do enough to determine clients’ identities, provide information about the source of their wealth, or monitor transactions properly. One adviser handling Venezuelan clients in 2016 and 2017 reaped millions in bonuses and other payouts even though the bank had spotted possible wrongdoing in connection with a case involving state oil giant PDVSA.

“The bank’s remuneration system focused almost exclusively on financial targets and paid scant regard to compliance and risk management goals,” FINMA said.

“As an example, a CHF 70 million (about $70 million) transaction was carried out in respect of a large Venezuelan client in 2014 without the required investigations, even though the bank had learnt in the same year that the client was facing accusations of corruption,” it added.

FINMA said it was appointing an independent auditor to monitor internal reforms.

“Until it is once again fully compliant with the law, the bank is prohibited from conducting transactions such as major acquisitions that lead to a significant increase in operating risks (including but not limited to money laundering risk) or in its organisational complexity,” it said.

The authority has been involved in crackdowns on a number of corruption and money-laundering cases in recent years, also including Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. It did not offer details about alleged corruption or money laundering involving Julius Baer at FIFA, the Zurich-based world soccer body.

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Judo champion who defied Iran’s guidelines now in hiding

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Saeid Mollaei has been in hiding since he left the Iranian judo crew final month, saying he had been ordered to withdraw from the world championships on political grounds.

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Now he is coaching for subsequent yr’s Olympics with no assure he can compete.

Mollaei was the defending world champion, and Israel’s Sagi Muki his greatest rival for the gold medal. There was one downside — Iran has a coverage of boycotting all competitions towards Israelis, even when meaning an athlete’s coaching was all for nothing.

Mollaei advised The Related Press he was ordered to lose a preliminary bout towards a Russian with a purpose to cowl up the explanation for his withdrawal. When he refused and received, he acquired extra intimidating calls from senior officers.

“For as soon as, I made a decision to stay as a free man for myself, and show to the world that I’m a courageous man,” Mollaei mentioned in a current interview in Germany, the place he is dwelling in an undisclosed location.

“I did this for my human soul. For myself. I needed to apply and compete with freedom, with peace of thoughts,” mentioned Mollaei, talking in Persian. “I did not need to fear about whom to compete with and whom to not compete with. I will compete with anybody, to honor the Olympic constitution.”

In the long run, Mollaei misplaced a bronze-medal bout and did not face Muki, who received gold. The Worldwide Judo Federation, which is supporting Mollaei, mentioned he acquired calls for to withdraw from an Iranian deputy sports activities minister, embassy workers and the pinnacle of the Iranian Olympic Committee.

Mollaei’s likeliest path to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is now the Worldwide Olympic Committee’s crew for refugees. The IJF helps him however mentioned he’ll want refugee standing from the United Nations.

Up to now, adapting to life in Germany is difficult.

“Even the garments you possibly can see on me (are presents). I had nothing when arrived in Germany. I simply determined to come back and I got here,” he mentioned. “I had loads of presents from mates and that is how I stay now, with the assistance of some mates and the IJF. I am nonetheless ready to see what is going to occur later, how I can compete, however clearly from the very starting of my arrival right here in Germany I began my coaching. The place and the way I’ll compete later, I do not know but.”

Mollaei mentioned he has not requested for asylum in Germany. As a substitute, he’s dwelling on a visa issued when he competed in German membership occasions, and is cautious about safety.

Powerfully constructed, with broad shoulders, Mollaei speaks softly and chooses his phrases fastidiously.

“Even after I need to contact my household I do it by a good friend in Tehran as a result of my household is underneath surveillance and I am unable to discuss many points,” he mentioned. “I haven’t got a lot contact with any of my mates.”

Mollaei advised the AP he had been given comparable orders to keep away from Israeli rivals on three earlier events. The final time was in February, when he failed to seem for the medal ceremony at a contest in France as a result of it will imply sharing the rostrum with Muki.

“Virtually all Iranian athletes have acquired such orders when it’s linked to Israeli athletes,” he mentioned.

Iranian officers have mentioned Mollaei was one way or the other manipulated into leaving the crew, and that he could be welcomed if he returned residence.

He’s skeptical, pointing to an Iranian letter to the IJF in Might pledging to adjust to Olympic non-discrimination guidelines. On the time, it was hailed as a sign Iran would finish its sports activities boycott of Israel.

“I can guarantee you that they did not adjust to the Olympic Constitution. So how can we belief them?” Mollaei mentioned of Iran’s sports activities officers.

Mollaei’s break with the Iranian authorities comes at a time when activists are utilizing sports activities to defy authorities calls for.

Feminine Iranian activists have campaigned for years to be allowed to attend sports activities stadiums, significantly for males’s soccer video games, and staged protests ultimately yr’s World Cup in Russia. Final week, Iranian information retailers reported 29-year-old soccer fan Sahar Khodayari had died after setting herself on hearth upon studying she might spend six months in jail for making an attempt to sneak right into a recreation.

Mollaei expressed sympathy for Khodayari and different feminine campaigners.

“I questioned why this occurred, why Iranian ladies cannot freely stay like different ladies, and luxuriate in sports activities and luxuriate in watching sports activities,” he mentioned. “I do not know what is going on on, and why such difficulties ought to solely occur to Iranians and the Iranian sport neighborhood.

“I do not know what to say. I am simply unhappy and disillusioned. I simply hope that at some point the ladies and athletes in my nation can stay freely and may get pleasure from life.”

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Extra AP sports activities: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports activities



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Infantino says FIFA scandals gone, despite corruption cases

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Ahead of his re-election as FIFA president, Gianni Infantino said Wednesday he has banished scandals and corruption from the soccer body despite losing members of his council for misconduct.

Infantino is running un-opposed for a second presidential term through 2023. He was first elected in 2016 in the wake of Sepp Blatter’s downfall amid the biggest scandal in FIFA’s history.

“Remember the state of FIFA at that congress,” Infantino said. “Well the last three years and four months have certainly not been perfect. I have made mistakes certainly and I try to improve and do this better but today on an election day nobody talks about crisis. Nobody talks about rebuilding FIFA from scratch. Nobody talks about scandals. Nobody talks about corruption.”

A generation of soccer leaders in North and South America were swept from power in 2016 after American and Swiss prosecutors targeted financial corruption linked to the game’s governing bodies.

In the Infantino era, four continental soccer organizations each lost elected FIFA Council members amid allegations of corruption or financial misjudgments.

FIFA senior vice president David Chung of Papua New Guinea was banned for 6 1/2 years. Kwesi Nyantakyi of Ghana was banned for life. Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait withdrew his re-election candidacy when implicated in bribing voters. Reinhard Grindel of Germany resigned.

Infantino was also investigated, and soon cleared, in 2016 by the FIFA ethics committee for his use of private jets. The investigators and judges who ran that case, from Germany, Guam and Switzerland, were gone within a year.

Another independent official left abruptly weeks after finding that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was too conflicted to retain his FIFA Council seat while also implicated in a state-sponsored doping scandal.

But Infantino told FIFA’s 211 member associations that “we have turned the situation around” since the Blatter era.

“This organization went from being toxic, almost criminal to what it should be — an organization that develops football, an organization that cares about football,” Infantino said. “We have transformed it into a new FIFA — an organization which is synonymous with credibility, trust, integrity, equality, human rights.”

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports



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