INTERPOL suspends FIFA donation funds, but what happens to the money now, and what happens to INTERPOL?

Estlund Law, P.A.

Last week, I addressed INTERPOL’s listing of several individuals who are wanted for prosecution by the United States for FIFA-related financial crimes.  That post is here.  In light of those listings, RNLJ requested INTERPOL’s verification of reports that INTERPOL was reviewing its existing financial arrangement with FIFA, wherein FIFA had pledged 20 million euros to the organization over a period of years to aid in the fight against match-fixing.

In fact, INTERPOL responded to our request with a confirmation that the organization had not only reviewed its agreement with FIFA, but had come to a decision to suspend the use of funds provided under the agreement until further notice.  INTERPOL also made a public statement regarding the decision:

INTERPOL is announcing the suspension of its agreement with FIFA following investigations into corruption against football’s governing body.

Under a May 2011 agreement, INTERPOL received a donation from FIFA worth EUR 20 million to create a 10-year Integrity in Sport programme.

The decision by INTERPOL Secretatry General Jürgen Stock will see the world police body freeze the use of financial contributions from FIFA.

INTERPOL’s Executive Committee endorsed the decision at its three-day (10 -12 June) meeting at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.

The agreement with FIFA includes a clause which states that ‘the Funding Party declares notably that its activities are compatible with the principles, aims and activities of INTERPOL’.

“In light of the current context surrounding FIFA, while INTERPOL is still committed to developing our Integrity in Sport programme, I have decided to suspend the agreement,” said Secretary General Stock.

“All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the Organization, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community,” added Mr Stock.

INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport programme has helped international efforts across its 190 member countries to prevent the manipulation of sporting events and illegal gambling by criminal groups. Their ongoing criminal activities require a global response.

INTERPOL continues to closely monitor developments involving FIFA.

Note that INTERPOL did not say that it is returning any of the funds, rather the agreement has been suspended.  With time, the organization may decide to keep any funds that it has received thus far from FIFA, or the Executive Committee may feel compelled to return the funds depending on what other information comes to light.

Interestingly enough, INTERPOL may find itself in the same position of many Red Notice subjects who have done business with alleged criminals:  it has received funds in furtherance of a particular initiative, and those funds are later found to have a possible connection with illegal activity.  A private individual may find himself subject to the “knew or should have known” standard when it comes to prosecution for financial crimes.  Based on the developments related to the U.S.-based prosecution and the information that is now publicly available, INTERPOL may find itself answering questions about whether it knew or should have known that the anti-corruption funds it received from FIFA may have been related to illegal activity.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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