The high-profile arrest of prominent figures from FIFA has been headline news for some days now amid accusations of money laundering and bribery. While it has to be said that nobody has yet been charged with any offences there is a growing understanding that property transactions may have been at the heart of the investigation by the FBI. It seems a number of properties have been linked to high-ranking FIFA officials although nothing has yet been proved in a court of law.
Did property transactions open the can of worms?
There has long been scepticism about the way that FIFA has been run although despite rumours and counter rumours, no unlawful acts have ever been proved. Whether or not the ongoing investigation by the FBI results in charges or indeed any convictions remains to be seen but there are rumours that property transactions may well have opened this particular can of worms.
Slowly but surely details of the FBI enquiry are being leaked to the press amid accusations that a handful of relatively expensive properties may have been acquired through unlawful activity. Unofficial sources are suggesting that highly complex financial transactions through foreign companies had initially hidden the underlying ownership of the properties in question. However, as more and more law enforcement authorities around the world begin to work together there are signs that the jigsaw may well be falling into place.
Secretive property companies
The first thing to say is that acquiring a property through a company is not unlawful and many countries around the world allow these transactions every day. Even though the law enforcement community has been trying to introduce more transparency the simple fact is that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. Those who are currently being questioned by the FBI about links to various properties, often owned by overseas companies, are not actually breaking the law by transferring ownership to companies. The main crux of the ongoing investigation concerns allegations about where the funding came from and who provided it.
The UK property market has long made use of secret property companies often incorporated in countries which allow strict privacy for the underlying owners. So, if law enforcement agencies around the world are looking to throw mud at various FIFA officials simply because of secretive property companies then perhaps they should first look a little closer to home?
Money-laundering and property transactions
If only a fraction of the allegations made about property investments are true, in relation to the FIFA investigation, it will throw up many questions because money-laundering regulations have been tightened over the last few years. The figures being mentioned by the FBI are astronomical and it does beg the question as to whether current regulations are worth the paper they are written on?
It will be interesting to see the actual facts and figures regarding alleged irregular property transactions and how these were allowed to pass under the regulatory radar. However, it may well be that many of these accusations cannot be proven in a court of law but it looks as though this is an issue which will carry on for many months to come.