Swiss bank Julius Baer to pay nearly $80M in FIFA case

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Swiss bank Julius Baer agreed to pay nearly $80 million in fines and penalties for its role in illegal payments involving FIFA and the South American governing body CONMEBOL.

The bank will pay a $43.32 million fine plus $36,368,400 in restitution — matching the total of the illegal payments — for a total of $79,688,400, according to a plea agreement read into the record Thursday by U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen. The money is due within 10 days of the formal filing of the agreement later Thursday, Chen said.

Christoph Hiestand, Julius Baer’s Zurich-based group general counsel, appeared during a telephone hearing held at federal court in Brooklyn and said the bank’s board of directors and managing directors approved a resolution to have Julius Baer cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. The bank entered into a 42-month deferred prosecution agreement.

The bank said in November it was setting aside $79.7 million for an expected payment in the case. Julius Baer has cooperated with the prosecution since charges in the soccer case were first unsealed in 2015.

Jorge Arzuaga, a former Julius Baer banker, pleaded guilty before Chen on June 15, 2017, to one count of money laundering conspiracy and forfeited $1,046,000 to the U.S. and Swiss governments.

Julius Baer also was penalized in February 2020 by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) for failing a duty to combat money laundering, including in its ties to FIFA officials.

Julius Baer, founded in 1890, admitted it transported, transmitted and transferred funds from February 2013 to May 2015 that it knew represented proceeds of unlawful activity and the transactions were designed in whole or in part to conceal ownership.

Julius Baer waived the right to object to the jurisdiction of the case in Brooklyn federal court and also waived the right to attempt to suppress any evidence. The bank also agreed to enhance its corporate compliance program.

The fine would be have been $45.6 million but was reduced 5% as part of the plea agreement.

More than 40 soccer and marketing officials and agencies have been convicted, entered guilty pleas, or been indicted. Some await sentencing or have yet to be extradited to the U.S.

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