Swiss Say 53 Bank Accounts in FIFA Probe Are at Local Lenders

The 53 FIFA-related banking accounts reported to the Swiss Money-laundering Office were all at institutions located in Switzerland, a federal official said.

Only financial intermediaries and banks that are in Switzerland report suspicious accounts to the Swiss Money-Laundering Reporting Office, said Stiliano Ordolli, who heads the office known as MROS. The fact that the banks came forward voluntarily demonstrates the country’s regulatory approach is sound, he said in an interview.

“It shows that the system works,” he said in the Swiss capital of Bern Thursday. “There is an obligation, but it’s the bank that decides when it has an obligation.”

The Swiss Attorney-General’s office said Wednesday it’s examining the 53 accounts and another 104 identified with help from authorities abroad as it intensifies its probe into corruption in international soccer. Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich last month who have been indicted on bribery, racketeering and money laundering charges by U.S. authorities.

Swiss authorities Friday released a report on the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing in the small Alpine country, which draws heavily from financial services for its prosperity. Among the report’s conclusions were that private banks and other financial institutions are among the most vulnerable to illicit activity and that Switzerland could use the instruments afforded to it by law more effectively.

Swiss banks can also report to the Swiss money-laundering office if they are uncomfortable with a certain transaction even if they’re not obliged to report it, said Ordolli. “And that is happening more and more.”

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