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FIFA World Cup Swiss authorities examining 133 ‘suspicious’ transactions

Additional reports on suspicious World Cup transactions come after Michel Platini, French president of European football’s governing body, lost his appeal to lift FIFA's 90-day ban on Friday.

(Keystone)

The Swiss Attorney General's Office said on Monday that 133 reports of suspicious financial activity linked to FIFA’s decisions to let Russia and Qatar host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals are being investigated.

This is up from the 103 reports of suspicious transactions related to the world football governing body's allocation of the World Cup that were reported in August.  

In an email to Reuters, an Attorney General spokeswoman said that the suspicious activity reports came from the Swiss Federal Office of Police’s (FEDPOL) Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS).

“These reports are related to the ongoing criminal proceedings around the allocation of the Football World Cup 2018 and 2022,” she said.

Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.

Bank investigation

US federal prosecutors are conducting a parallel investigation into FIFA’s financial conduct, and have indicted 27 soccer officials over multimillion-dollar bribery schemes for soccer marketing and broadcast rights. Twelve people and two sports marketing companies have been convicted.

The US investigation is also looking into the flow of suspicious money through the banking system.

Acting under US requests for legal assistance, Swiss justice officials have agreed to share bank information with US prosecutors in five cases, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Justice in Bern told Reuters.

No information has changed hands yet, because account holders have appealed. The names of the account holders, the banks involved and the amount of money frozen in the probe have not been released.

US Department of Justice indictments indicate that conspirators made transfers to accounts in at least two Zurich banks: Julius Baer and the Swiss unit of Israel's Bank Hapoalim BM.

UBS and Credit Suisse say they have received inquiries from authorities concerning their banking relationships to certain people and entities linked to FIFA, and that they are cooperating.

Suspended

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, his deputy Jerome Valcke and European soccer boss Michel Platini have all been suspended by FIFA's internal ethics committee. None of them has been charged with a crime, and all deny any wrongdoing.

On Friday, Platini lost his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne to lift the 90-day ban imposed by FIFA.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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