Swiss agree to send bank info regarding FIFA cases to U.S.

Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:17am EST
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss justice officials have issued their first order to send bank information to U.S. prosecutors who in May charged 14 soccer officials and sports-rights marketers with racketeering, money laundering and bribery.

Folco Galli, a Federal Office of Justice spokesman, said on Thursday the order was the first regarding information from Swiss banks as requested by the U.S. Justice Department as part of its pursuit of corruption linked to world soccer body FIFA.

"An order always affects a single holder of one or multiple accounts at a single bank," Galli said. "As a result, the Office of Justice still has to issue numerous additional orders."

The name of the account holder and the bank involved were not released. The holder has 30 days to lodge an appeal with the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

The United States has submitted numerous requests for legal assistance since March to its Swiss counterpart in connection with FIFA. In response, Switzerland has blocked several accounts at Swiss banks where bribery money is alleged to have flowed.

U.S. Department of Justice indictments of the 14 people, including two ex-FIFA vice-presidents, indicate conspirators made transfers to accounts in at least two Zurich banks: Bank Julius Baer and the Swiss unit of Israel’s Bank Hapoalim BM .

FIFA, dogged by corruption accusations for many years, was pitched into crisis when police raided a Zurich hotel in late May on the eve of a congress, arresting several officials.

The soccer organization has since suspended its president, Sepp Blatter, and European soccer boss Michel Platini over a 2 million Swiss franc ($1.95 million) payment, which Blatter says was a "gentleman's agreement" for services.


The FIFA logo is seen outside their headquarters in Zurich October 8, 2015.REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann