ZURICH: Executives from the Swiss private bank Julius Baer have reportedly told United States prosecutors that a ‘lone wolf’ former employee was responsible for channelling bribes uncovered by the FIFAGate investigation.
Jorge Arzuaga is expected to plead guilty though his legal advisers have refused to make any formal comment.
Julius Baer had already been targeted by the US authorities – before the international football corruption case was revealed – over assisting in creating tax avoidance schemes on behalf of wealthy Americans.
A spokesman for Julius Baer told Reuters it had sacked an employee in 2015 “after he had admitted having violated applicable laws and internal policies”.
The bank added: “[He] never told anyone at the bank that any account was being used as a conduit for bribes and that indeed he denied having such knowledge.”
Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General said on Thursday it is investigating a former bank employee linked to the FIFA probe but the bank is not under investigation.
Arzuaga, an Argentinean who worked in Zurich as a private banker, handled accounts for sports marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, several people familiar with the matter said.
Burzaco, former ceo of powerful Argentinian marketing company TyC, pleaded guilty in 2015 to money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud conspiracies connected to marketing rights to tournaments.
Burzaco, a former Citigroup investment banker, is due to be sentenced in November.
According to Reuters, Arzuaga told his bosses he was worried about the accounts he was managing for Burzaco after the May 2015 arrest of seven senior world football executives in Zurich. Julius Baer advised him to appoint a lawyer and began an inquiry, sacking him shortly afterwards.
Arzuaga has reportedly insisted his immediate managers were aware of an account at the bank holding money for Julio Grondona, the former FIFA senioe vice-president and finance chairman who died in 2014.
An account for Grondona at Julius Baer held millions of dollars, one of the sources said, but was affiliated with Burzaco.