Hong Kong looks at 'implication' for banks in FIFA probe

Hong Kong looks at 'implication' for banks in FIFA probe

HONG KONG - Hong Kong said Thursday it was "monitoring the implications" for banks after the money laundering and corruption storm engulfing FIFA revealed that payments had passed through the city.

The United States unveiled a years-long international investigation after seven football officials were arrested in Zurich in dawn raids Wednesday by Swiss police at the request of the US authorities.

A US indictment charges 14 football officials and marketing executives with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies that cover 24 years beginning in 1991.

"The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is aware of this case and is monitoring the implication for banks," the HKMA said in a statement Thursday.

"We are unable to discuss details of individual cases," it said.

Tens of millions of dollars had been hidden in offshore accounts in Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, said Richard Weber, chief of the US tax agency's criminal investigation division.

The US Justice Department indictment said that a payment of US$1.2 million (S$1.6 million) to official Costas Takkas had been wired to an unspecified bank account at HSBC in Hong Kong.

Two payments totalling US$1 million were then wired from the Hong Kong account to a Standard Chartered bank account in New York and then to the Cayman Islands.

HSBC and Standard Chartered were among more than a dozen banks named in court documents.

The officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive more than US$150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the support of US and South American sports marketing executives who agreed to make the illegal payments.

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