Julius Baer eyes DOJ payment in FIFA matter, plans dividend

09/16/2020 | 05:26am

Julius Baer may pay tens of millions of dollars to settle U.S. allegations over its role in soccer body FIFA's corruption affair, the Swiss bank said on Wednesday, adding it will ask shareholders in November to a back a second 2019 dividend tranche.

Baer is in what it described as "advanced" talks with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the FIFA scandal, a holdover from the era of former Chief Executive Boris Collardi, who is now at Pictet, that has kept its lawyers busy for years.

Baer this year was reprimanded by Switzerland's financial supervisor FINMA for ignoring money laundering risks of FIFA-linked payments, while an ex-banker was convicted in 2017 in U.S. District Court of conspiracy charges for arranging payments from a sports marketing executive to the Argentine soccer association's president.

"Julius Baer has been cooperating since 2015 with the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation of alleged money laundering and corruption involving officials and affiliates of FIFA and associated sports media and marketing companies," Baer said in a statement.

"The bank is currently in advanced discussions with the DOJ about reaching a resolution in such matter, which may result in the payment of a double-digit million U.S. dollar amount."

The bank said that planned to propose the distribution of the second part of its 2019 dividend at a Nov. 2 extraordinary shareholder meeting. Baer was among Swiss banks that proposed splitting its 1.50 francs per share dividend this year out of caution over the coronavirus's impact on finances.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michelle Adair and Michael Shields)

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