Bank Hapoalim Agrees to Pay More Than $30 Million for Its Role in FIFA Money Laundering Conspiracy
Bank Hapoalim B.M. and Hapoalim (Switzerland) Ltd. has entered Into Three-Year Non-Prosecution Agreement. Bank Hapoalim B.M. (BHBM), is an Israeli bank with international operations, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hapoalim (Switzerland) Ltd. (BHS).
BHBM has agreed to forfeit $20,733,322 and pay a fine of $9,329,995 to resolve an investigation into their involvement in a money-laundering conspiracy that fueled an international soccer bribery scheme. Specifically, BHBM and BHS have admitted that they, through certain of their employees, conspired to launder over $20 million in bribes and kickbacks to soccer officials with Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and other soccer federations.
- “For nearly five years, Bank Hapoalim employees used the U.S. financial system to launder tens of millions of dollars in bribe payments to corrupt soccer officials in multiple countries,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
- “Today’s announcement demonstrates the department’s commitment to holding financial institutions to account when they knowingly facilitate corruption and other criminal conduct.”
According to admissions in the statement of facts stipulated to by BHBM and BHS as part of the agreement, from approximately Dec. 10, 2010, to Feb. 20, 2015,
- BHBM and BHS personnel conspired with sports marketing executives, including executives associated with Full Play Group S.A. (Full Play), a sports media and marketing business based in Argentina, and others, to launder at least $20,733,322 in bribes and kickbacks to soccer officials.
- In exchange for those bribes and kickbacks, the soccer officials awarded or steered broadcasting rights for soccer matches and tournaments to the sports marketing executives and their companies.
- Full Play allegedly executed the illegal payments from accounts at BHS and BHBM’s branch in Miami, Florida, which were held in the names of Full Play subsidiaries and affiliates.
- On March 18, 2020, Full Play was charged along with others in a superseding indictment in the Eastern District of New York with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.
BHBM and BHS also admitted they conspired to launder money for Luis Bedoya, who at various times served as the president of the Federación Colombiana de Futbol, a vice president of the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL), and a member of FIFA’s executive committee.
BHBM’s Miami branch and BHS allowed accounts controlled by Bedoya to be used to receive illicit bribe and kickback payments. Bedoya pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy on Nov. 12, 2015, in the Eastern District of New York.
Notwithstanding the repeated concerns raised by BHS compliance personnel about certain payments made to soccer officials from the accounts associated with Full Play, BHS failed to take action. Instead, the banks’ relationship managers continued executing illicit bribe and kickback payments on behalf of Full Play.