Caribbean bank reviewing policies following FIFA row

Montego Bay (Jamaica), June 21 (IANS) CIBC First Caribbean International Bank has said it is carrying out a review of all its policies and processes associated with money laundering and fraud, after being named among several regional financial institutions in investigations for fraud at the world football governing body, FIFA.

According to the allegations, one of the bank’s Bahamas-based executives travelled to New York to pick up a $250,000 cheque from one of FIFA’s top officials, Chuck Blazer, and returned to Nassau to deposit the funds into Blazer’s CIBC First Caribbean account, reports CMC.

Authorities investigating financial wrongdoing at FIFA claim the transaction was part of a $10 million bribe to influence which country would host the 2010 World Cup.

Blazer has pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion and failing to declare ownership of the CIBC First Caribbean Bahamas account to US tax authorities.

Blazer, the former general secretary of the CONCACAF, the football governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, has also entered into a plea deal with US federal authorities investigating FIFA.

Last month US authorities indicted several FIFA officials, including CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and his predecessor Jack Warner on corruption charges. Webb was also among six FIFA officials arrested by Swiss police as part of a US investigation into allegations of bribery over football tournaments.

CIBC First Caribbean CEO Rik Parkhill told a news conference here on Saturday the bank has made strides over the last three to four years in ensuring it has “the most robust regime possible” to tackle any form of financial wrongdoing.

“Certainly we’re concerned when any financial institution is linked to FIFA or any other organisation where there are allegations of misconduct. But we are doing a thorough review,” he said.

“But you know it does impact on not only our bank’s reputation but the FIFA issues are not just Caribbean issues. There are a huge number of onshore banks that FIFA used as well outside of the Caribbean,” Parkhill said.

He added that while there were no fail-safe policies and processes, he was satisfied that CIBC First Caribbean has the right programme in place.

“We work closely with our regulators around the region and we cooperate with any investigations so when we look at our ‘know your client’ processes and policies… I think we’re reasonably satisfied.

“There’s always some room for improvement but we’re reasonably satisfied that our processes are being followed and they’re in place.”

Parkhill told reporters the US Department of Justice has not requested that CIBC First Caribbean cooperate with any investigation related to the indictment.

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