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Switzerland to return soccer cash stashed at Swiss banks to South America

Switzerland to return soccer cash stashed at Swiss banks to South America
FILE PHOTO: Switzerland's national flag flies below a logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse at its headquarters at the Paradeplatz square in Zurich, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann   -   Copyright  ARND WIEGMANN(Reuters)
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By John Miller

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss prosecutors are preparing to return money to the South American soccer association that was seized from Swiss bank accounts during a sweeping global probe of corruption involving world soccer officials.

One of the bank accounts, at Credit Suisse, contains nearly $500,000 and was owned by Eduardo Carlos Deluca, the former head of the South American Football Confederation, and Andres Castelli, a former Latin America regional director at world soccer association FIFA, prosecutors said.

The other soccer-related account, at private bank Julius Baer, contained undisclosed assets registered to a company called Ypacarai Ltd, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said in an announcement in the country’s Federal Gazette.

The OAG did not immediately reply to a message on Monday from Reuters seeking to find out the amount in the Julius Baer account.

“The OAG intends to allocate the (money) to the South American Football Confederation for the purpose of surrender to the injured party,” it said in the official gazette last week.

“The OAG considers the criminal investigation… complete and intends to close it shortly,” it added.

Deluca, head of the South American soccer body from 1986 to 2011, was among 16 people charged by U.S. prosecutors in 2015 with multimillion-dollar bribery schemes for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches which the Department of Justice called a “24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”. [https://reut.rs/2LRRu59]

The United States tried in 2016 to extradite Deluca from Argentina, but a judge there blocked the request. [https://reut.rs/2RzyhJ2]

Swiss financial supervisor FINMA last year criticised Credit Suisse for failing to adequately combat money laundering in corruption cases including those involving former soccer officials. [https://reut.rs/38lPJGG]

A former Julius Baer employee in 2017 pleaded guilty in the United States to a money-laundering conspiracy charge in connection with payments of more than $25 million in bribes into an account of Julio Grondona, president of the Argentine Football Association until he died in 2014. Julius Baer has said the employee acted alone. [https://reut.rs/2Rv3ZHk]

Credit Suisse and Julius Baer did not immediately comment on Monday.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by Ed Osmond)

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