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FIFA scandal forces bank to review its policies

Barbados-headquartered CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank is carrying out a thorough review of its policies and processes following reports, which fingered the financial institution in the FIFA corruption scandal involving American Chuck Blazer and ex-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner.

It was alleged that a Bahamas banker from CIBC FirstCaribbean International made a round-trip to New York to collect a $250,000 cheque from a top FIFA official that was part of a $10 million bribe to influence voting on which nation would stage the 2010 soccer World Cup.

It was also alleged that the unnamed banking executive collected the cheque from disgraced Blazer and returned to the Bahamas on May 3, 2011 and deposited the money into Blazer’s CIBC FirstCaribbean bank account in Nassau, which had been undeclared to the US tax authorities until the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began its FIFA bribery probe.

Responding to questions from journalists in Jamaica last evening ahead of the bank’s third annual CIBC FirstCaribbean Infrastructure Conference, Chief Executive Officer Rik Parkhill said the bank had not been asked so far by authorities to assist in any of the ongoing investigations surrounding the FIFA disgrace.

However, a frank Parkhill said he was “reasonably satisfied” that the bank had the right regime in place while acknowledging that there were no “policies or processes that are absolutely fail-safe”.

“We have an ongoing review of all of our policies and processes associated with money laundering and fraud and I think we have made substantial strides over the last three to four years in terms of making sure that we have the most robust regime possible,” said Parkhill.

“Certainly we are concerned when any financial institution is linked to FIFA or any other organization where there are allegations of misconduct, but we are doing a thorough review. It does impact on not only our bank’s reputation but the FIFA issues aren’t just Caribbean issues there are a huge number of onshore banks that FIFA used as well outside of the Caribbean,” he said.

Asked if any action had yet been taken against the employee in question, Parkhill said: “We don’t discuss personal matters”.

However, he gave the assurance that the bank continued to work “closely” with regulators in each jurisdiction across the region and would cooperate with any investigation as the need arises.

“There is always some room for improvement, but we are reasonably satisfied that our processes are being followed and are in place,” said Parkhill.

“I don’t think there are any policies or processes that are absolutely fail safe, but we are reasonably satisfied that we have the right regime in place,” he said.

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