January 19, 2016 / 10:26 AM / 4 years ago

Julius Baer dismisses employee in internal FIFA probe

ZURICH/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Swiss bank Julius Baer has dismissed one of its client advisers as part of its internal investigation into ties with world soccer’s governing body FIFA, the bank said on Tuesday.

The logo of Swiss private bank Julius Baer is pictured on the company's branch in Lausanne November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The employee left soon after several soccer officials were arrested in Zurich last May, the only member of the bank’s staff to be dismissed so far in connection with the probe.

“I can confirm to you that this employee has been dismissed,” spokesman Jan Vonder Muehll said by telephone, adding that the employee was dismissed in summer 2015.

Baer said in June it had opened an internal investigation in connection with FIFA after a corruption scandal engulfed soccer’s governing body. The bank said at the time that it was fully cooperating with the authorities.

Reuters was unable to determine what the dismissed employee had done with respect to FIFA that was potentially illegal.

The dismissal was first reported by Swiss finance blog Inside Paradeplatz.

Law enforcement sources familiar with FIFA investigations told Reuters last year that one Julius Baer banker was under investigation, principally by U.S. authorities, for possible illegal activity.

The person under investigation was said by the sources to be the main if not sole handler at Baer of the bank’s relationship with FIFA.

It could not immediately be determined if the person under investigation was the employee dismissed by Baer last year.

Zurich-based FIFA was thrown into turmoil when U.S. authorities announced the indictment of 14 people last May, seven of whom were arrested at their Zurich hotel.

Baer, Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank, was one of a number of banks mentioned as financial intermediaries in the U.S. Department of Justice’s May charge sheet against high-ranking FIFA individuals.

A total of 41 individuals and entities, including many former FIFA officials, have now been charged with corruption-related offences in the United States. Swiss authorities are also investigating whether corruption played a role in FIFA’s awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.

Additional reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields and Keith Weir

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