U.S. demanded anti-money laundering group delete soccer warning: sources
By Mark Hosenball and Brett Wolf
LONDON/ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - The United States and several other countries forced an international anti-money-laundering organization to withdraw a public warning it issued in June to financial institutions about corruption in soccer, according to two people familiar with the matter.
After the Financial Action Task Force published the warning, some top anti-money laundering compliance officials at large U.S. banks contacted U.S. Treasury delegates to the Paris-based group to express their concerns, one of the sources said. The U.S. delegates then demanded the statement be withdrawn.
Meeting in private, the organization’s steering committee backed the demand, with the U.S. getting the support of delegates from Russia, the UK and France among others, the second source said.
The committee decided to delete the warning from FATF's website before a full meeting of the organization in Brisbane, Australia in late June, said the second source, who was present at that meeting. But the decision to cancel the notice was never announced publicly, this person said.
"The U.S. FATF delegation had a fit. They told the FATF they were way out of bounds because that statement was just so far beyond any current reasonable boundaries that have been established and agreed upon by FATF members," the first source said. "The U.S. delegation said: 'You guys are nuts, that is not the way we're headed with this stuff.'"
Banks have already begun applying "a tremendous amount of scrutiny to FIFA-related vendor payments and associated individuals," but even that scrutiny has limits, this source added.
Officials at FATF, an inter-governmental body bringing together anti-money-laundering agencies around the world, did not respond to a detailed email requesting comment.
A Treasury spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters. Continued...