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VI played a role in FIFA corruption scandal- US Justice Dept

- allegations are that VI may have played a part in ‘masking kickbacks’ between FIFA officials & executives
June 1st, 2015 | Tags: corruption scandal FIFA tax havens NDP VIP
President of the BVI Football Association (BVIFA) Mr Andy Bickerton recently said the FIFA corruption scandal would have no adverse effect on the construction of the stadium at East End, however, it seems there could be something adverse effects to the image of the Virgin Islands financial services sector which is already coming in for criticism and reportedly even investigation due to information that the Virgin Islands may have played a part in ‘masking kickbacks’ between FIFA officials and executives. Photo: VINO
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) led by its Chairman Hon Julian Fraser RA (left) has heavily criticised the National Democratic Party (NDP), led by Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith, of being reckless and allowing the country to be blacklisted by France. The NDP, in its defence, cast the blame on the VIP. Photo: VINO/File
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) led by its Chairman Hon Julian Fraser RA (left) has heavily criticised the National Democratic Party (NDP), led by Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith, of being reckless and allowing the country to be blacklisted by France. The NDP, in its defence, cast the blame on the VIP. Photo: VINO/File
British-born businessman Costas Takkas (pictured) is being held in Zurich after being arrested in dawn raids on Wednesday May 27, 2015. According to the indictment, Costas Takkas, a UK citizen who acted as attaché to Fifa’s vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, used a firm called Kosson Ventures, registered in the VI and with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, to allegedly facilitate illegal payments between a South American sports marketing agency, Traffic, and Fifa officials. Photo: Daily Mail
British-born businessman Costas Takkas (pictured) is being held in Zurich after being arrested in dawn raids on Wednesday May 27, 2015. According to the indictment, Costas Takkas, a UK citizen who acted as attaché to Fifa’s vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, used a firm called Kosson Ventures, registered in the VI and with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, to allegedly facilitate illegal payments between a South American sports marketing agency, Traffic, and Fifa officials. Photo: Daily Mail
The current and former Fifa executives indicted include Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin.
The current and former Fifa executives indicted include Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- President of the BVI Football Association (BVIFA) Andy Bickerton recently said the FIFA corruption scandal would have no adverse effect on the construction of the stadium at East End, however, it seems there could be some adverse effects to the image of the Virgin Islands financial services sector which is already coming in for criticism due to information that the Virgin Islands may have played a part in ‘masking kickbacks’ between FIFA officials and executives.

According to the US Department of Justice, the ‘overseas tax havens’ of the (British) Virgin Islands, Caymans and Turks & Caicos played a key role in what US authorities have called “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” corruption in the world of football.

The guardian.com on Saturday May 30, 2015 alleged that the 164-page US Department of Justice indictment, outlining the case against the 14 football officials and marketing executives who were arrested last week, shows that three of Britain’s overseas territories - the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos - allegedly played a part in masking kickbacks between officials and executives.

“The revelation has intensified calls for a clampdown on the offshore banking sector, where campaigners say a lack of transparency and oversight allows bribery and corruption to thrive, the Observer reported.

According to the indictment, Costas Takkas, a UK citizen who acted as attaché to Fifa’s vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, used a firm called Kosson Ventures, registered in the VI and with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, to allegedly facilitate illegal payments between a South American sports marketing agency, Traffic, and Fifa officials.

The indictment, according to the Observer, raises questions about whether the banks in the tax havens should have flagged the transactions to the authorities as a potential concern. The indictment states: “On or about November 21, 2012, two wire transfers, of $750,000 and $250,000, were sent from Front Company A’s account at HSBC bank in Hong Kong to a correspondent account at Standard Chartered Bank in New York for credit to an account in the name of Kosson Ventures, controlled by Takkas, at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands”.

VI remains on France’s blacklist

The reputation of the Virgin Islands financial services sector, one of the pillars of economic growth in the territory, has already come in for much criticism from international media and in late 2013 France included the Virgin Islands on its blacklist.

The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) has heavily criticised the National Democratic Party (NDP) of being reckless and allowing the country to be blacklisted by France. The NDP, in its defence, cast the blame on the VIP.

Financial Secretary Mr Neil M. Smith confirmed during a press conference on April 23, 2015 that the VI remains blacklisted although the territory has been working to get itself removed.

“To answer the question which I guess everybody wants to hear, what I can say is that on a technical level the French are really pleased with us. But I cannot advise you on the other level that we need to get to in order to get off the list which is the political level,” said Smith.

He had said that out of 119 requests that the VI has received, “We have answered about 116 and we are in the process of answering others.”

Who to blame?

Honourable Julian Fraser RA (R3) had rejected the assertion by the National Democratic Party (NDP) that the Virgin Islands Party Government was responsible for the blacklist on the territory, citing that the French sanctioned the VI in 2013, two years after the VIP left office.

Hon Fraser stated: “Also keeping in mind that the VIP was the only party to sign tax information exchange agreements, over two administrations from 1999 to 2003 and 2007 to 2011, while the NDP signed none in their first administration from 2003 to 2007 and signed none in their second administration from 2011 to the time the French blacklisted us in 2013. The French detected this careless and irresponsible approach that the NDP Government had towards our financial services and they took action. They made 43 requests for information from our Government and I think they got something like 21. What do you expect? And they could look to blame us?”

However, the NDP countered, claiming that the issues raised by France came up during the 2007 to 2011 administration of the VIP.

How to act?

Nevertheless, the FIFA corruption has once against put the spotlight on the Virgin Islands off shore sector and will surely create some sleepless nights for whichever party gains power at the June 8, 2015 elections as all would agree that everything must be done to protect one of the main revenue earners of the territory.

In the UK, for instance, two banks have launched internal reviews into whether Fifa officials used them for corrupt payments. The two banks are Barclays and Standard Chartered, who were named in last week's FBI indictment.

Whether a similar inquiry will be done here in the Virgin Islands to clear its name remains to be seen.

45 Responses to “VI played a role in FIFA corruption scandal- US Justice Dept”

  • SMH (01/06/2015, 12:08) Like (25) Dislike (14) Reply
    another ndp "success"
  • ? (01/06/2015, 12:10) Like (21) Dislike (21) Reply
    Oh Pleeeezeeee...relevance to VI...did they put the money in VI? Besides, those money laundered / corrupt funds must be peanuts compared to what passes through the US & UK financial system.
    • @? (01/06/2015, 12:34) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
      You are unaware of the dealings of the Financial Services Industry. The Company Kosson Ventures is said to be registered in the BVI by an Registered Agent/Registered Office and even though the alleged transfer of monies are done offshore, the fact that it is a BVI Company just strengthens the argument that the BVI to the outside world is considered a "Tax Haven".
      • I study this industry (01/06/2015, 13:27) Like (10) Dislike (6) Reply
        SO The BVI is a tax haven and.. whats the problem? when 70 cent of every dollar the BVI make comes from these offshore practices please don't be confuse mitt Romney had an offshore acct, Barack had offshore account this a big business and with that there is scrutiny. Did ayo watch their election when barack had to back up when mitt pull his hidden files. its simple We lose these businesses the territory going be brokes and dammm near third world in the future. These world leaders going continue doing business like this and we must continue to benefit. That's my opinion
        • @ (01/06/2015, 15:22) Like (16) Dislike (6) Reply
          SO what will happen when developed nations (i.e. like France) begin to blacklist us for our sketchy financial services. It shows poor management by our government that they cannot have transparency in our industries
          • Sketchy Financial Services? (01/06/2015, 17:36) Like (22) Dislike (1) Reply
            It would serve you well not to comment on matters you have absolutely no clue about. Or financial services industry is heavily-regulated and significantly more so than any onshore corporate domicile like Delaware in the United States of America and England itself. Any Dick, Tom and Harry can set up shop and incorporate companies in those jurisdictions. Do you know what it takes to get a Company Management licence from the FSC and be a registered agent? A heck of a lot including police records, financial records and the interview! The requirements stop just short of baring all and showing your privates as being in pristine, near birth condition to make sure you are legitimate and will carry on legitimate business in the Territory as a registered agent. Don't buy into the hype. Learn your economy and support it publicly. It is well-regulated and much better so than what lies behind the pointy fingers of the foreign powers that be out of pure ignorance. They can be forgiven but not us. If we're here on the ground, we should understand what we have and be prepared to defend it.
            • Industry under attack (03/06/2015, 15:47) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
              When it comes to us people act like only we does wrong. The assume studier may not be right but I agree wth them what benefit my country i am for. These things happen in the cayman islands all the time without a uproar. Fifa going continuing investing in countries for the development of football around the globe. The more treaties sign more companies going leave the bvi for he cayman islands or other off shore jurisdiction. Fraser was upset when DRSmith sign all those treaties and he was right because we loosing money
        • Dick Pepperfield (01/06/2015, 15:55) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
          Talking like that you coyuld not be studying or know anything about this industry, you nearly write like a fool.
      • Actually (01/06/2015, 16:28) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
        ? Could be one of the young ones who does not quite. Understand
    • @? (01/06/2015, 13:15) Like (17) Dislike (4) Reply
      This is a very serious issue, which goes to the heart of our financial services. It would be very irresponsible of us as residents of this territory to condone money laundering and corruption in any form.

      Although it appears opportunistic and overly zealous for the US to say, "Aha, let us see how we can wrap the UK Overseas Territories in this now", our territory's leaders should have kept a keener eye on possible FIFA pass-through transactions and endorsement of projects, especially after the scandals of 2011 and subsequent years. It is no secret that the bigger countries like the US and France are obsessed with going after financial centres such as the BVI, even though often we are better regulated.

      It is now for the BVI to take charge of this situation. The FSC needs to look into the alleged links in the US indictment and take necessary action. The government also has to rethink its acceptance of the FIFA pledge to the Greenland project; perhaps, request the new FIFA head to sanction the go-ahead of the disbursement of FIFA funds for this purpose, and provide requisite oversight. The recent endorsement and photo op by a candidate for FIFA's top post was a bit too convenient and improper for comfort. Although public/private partnerships and sponsorship by bespoke international bodies are to be encouraged, our leaders must be careful not to compromise the territory's integrity for short-term political gain.
      • Curious (02/06/2015, 08:11) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        these monies also passed through banks in china and the US before it ever got to the OTs, so my question is did those bank do their due diligence. This was a failure on multiple levels so why place so much negative scrutiny on the OTs. Is it because we are the most vulnerable victims?
        • @Curious (03/06/2015, 21:09) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          Curiously, you are correct in stating that it is because we are the most vulnerable victims. It is precisely for that reason that we have to be always vigilant.
  • VG Realist (01/06/2015, 12:13) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
    Well mehboy!
  • cay (01/06/2015, 12:17) Like (34) Dislike (21) Reply
    Ndp must go they have killed the bvi repretation overseas
  • one eye (01/06/2015, 12:19) Like (24) Dislike (9) Reply
    Have to investigate that fifa stadium in east end!
  • one (01/06/2015, 12:28) Like (7) Dislike (9) Reply
    Told you the NDP kickback kings were all primed for this. Now let's see fall out now that FBI involved.
  • egg face (01/06/2015, 12:32) Like (18) Dislike (19) Reply
    Ndp cannot handle the affairs of this country@
  • Hmmm (01/06/2015, 12:37) Like (15) Dislike (17) Reply
    If what Fraser said is true, then this is poor and reckless financial management on the NDP's part.
    • Yes (01/06/2015, 13:35) Like (19) Dislike (6) Reply
      Explain how this is NDP's issue? It clearly said FIFA, not VI Government.
      • one (01/06/2015, 15:02) Like (12) Dislike (5) Reply
        Because as I'm sure you're aware the current government is not operating above board. We can't find records or see receipts for any work done. Simple contracts seemed to get misplaced when called upon to be presented.

        Then along comes FIFA wanting to build a world class stadium for Tortola that have neither the infrastructure or population to support such a facility. But the politician here licked their chops at the opportunity of potential kick backs.

        This is dead issue FIFA not going to be able to build stadium too many questions yo be answered first.
  • WISE (01/06/2015, 13:01) Like (26) Dislike (3) Reply
    People are so ignorant. FIFA Been contributing to the BVI for years even under the VIP administration. FIFA even contribute every year throughout the caribbean their job is to develop football in which ever way or form. Why do you think we have football in the BVI why do you thing we have a national team that we are proud of, why do you think we have it implemented in our schools.The BVI has no control what happen with the top executives of FIFA. FIFA contributed to the development of Football in the BVI like they always do.
    • @ WISE (01/06/2015, 13:13) Like (12) Dislike (18) Reply
      ndp and corruption goes together bossie
    • @Wise (01/06/2015, 16:35) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
      Indeed, FIFA is expected to develop soccer/football in the various countries, but certainly not to grease officials' palms or unjustly enrich anyone in the process. It is all about accountability and transparency. The US is likely to use the investigation into the overseas territories for its own hegemonic gains. The lesson for us going forward: dot every 'i', cross every 't', and have full public disclosure of FIFA dealings. We DO have control over what transpires on our end.
    • Oh No (01/06/2015, 17:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      They were always here...JUST HERE!
  • child (01/06/2015, 13:13) Like (16) Dislike (3) Reply
    This is thing to talk!!!
  • Barbados (01/06/2015, 13:14) Like (18) Dislike (8) Reply
    we need a statement on the east end FIFA studium please where are the NDP consutltants?
  • my two cents (01/06/2015, 13:21) Like (21) Dislike (13) Reply
    we need a new goverment to restore our international reputation
    • @my two cents (01/06/2015, 16:13) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      The place has a long way to go now bottom of the barrel in the world order.
  • Lawyer (01/06/2015, 13:25) Like (15) Dislike (18) Reply
    More corruption to come this is just the first on that is open in the air more comming Dr smith and the rest of the NDp Where will you hide when the rest corruption sharges hit home cannot tell lies with this one the Justice Department on top of things marlon you frightned they come for you get your sheets and blankets dark ones too more to come So do not talk about by water they are clean but the Royal Caribbean comming soon Take thet and smoke it Member from the eight watch ot the fed may be trackibg you sooon Tis only who know what ever is done in darknes comes to light
    • Lawyer or Liar? (01/06/2015, 21:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Hey I think you miss-pelt liar as there is no way you could be a lawyer and write that incoherent nonsense.
  • voter (01/06/2015, 13:26) Like (16) Dislike (10) Reply
    What the UK man said the NDP have things hiding why they call a snap election but they also have the youths brain wash the NDP cannot represent the country overseas MR FRASER has been saying that for along time and they always come back with cocoa bay stories there is more to come LORD help the BVI we are sinking fast if we don't get a change.
  • Mike Rotch (01/06/2015, 13:35) Like (6) Dislike (7) Reply
    So how were we to know that it was FIFA bribe and not a legitimate transaction?
    • @Mike Roach (01/06/2015, 14:23) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
      Our elected officials and those at the local FIFA management are familiar with concepts such as 'due diligence' and 'know your client'. It is not to say that FIFA has not been embroiled in similar highly-publicized scandals in the recent past. That 2011 Jack Warner sting especially should have made our officials (local FIFA and our political leaders) more circumspect. However, the good fortune of a promise of having an impressive FIFA facility gifted to us, which could be withdrawn if we did not pounce on the offer, seemingly clouded our officials' better judgment. All that glitters is not gold!
  • Voter Too (01/06/2015, 14:27) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    Well guys let me tell you it doesn't matter which govt is in power you gonna have corruption. That is why we should give them all 2 terms each, one term to figure out how the money is to be spent and the final term to continue/complete the corruption. It was NDP time now it is VIP's turn. Same foot same shoe or same goat/sheep same knife
  • kids (01/06/2015, 14:29) Like (13) Dislike (8) Reply
    Ndp got them young youths fool off you will hear fraser is the man
  • Strupes (01/06/2015, 14:30) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply

    Nothing new, all countries and parties take part cause the financial business sector must go on either way so it don't matter who in $h1t will happen

  • VG Realist (01/06/2015, 14:30) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Some of you people on these blogs are ignorant to realize that this news is a threat to our financial services. We are not saying politicians are responsible, but the proper oversight of such transactions is the issue given years of systemic corruption of FIFA. We have constantly dodge a bullet to date when it comes to our financial services due to the fact that we are a regulated jurisdiction. But people do not take these allegations likely cause we do not operate in a local economy, we are on the world stage because of financial services. This is why we need to elect politicians that are proactive and are not pushovers.
  • will need a good lawyer (01/06/2015, 15:29) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply

    Fifa is going to tell all so 8th district man you better come clean other wise its trouble to come the pr****r knows all about this but Maro will have to take the blame, what was the conservation between pico Marlo and the fifa people held in the dead of night what was the deal take a good look at Pico he really look so tired and worn out because his consience is killing him but he cannot speak or else he will be up for grabs Sleep deprived as for r**nee he has to keep quiet his heart he hiding behing the sheets ans keeping a low profile because the chineese have him in a deep hole which he cannot really peep out from Mark where is the money borrowed from social security was it used for the roads or it was and is used for campaganing you almost knocjk Dr, smith over his head for the premier ship and also to borrow the money from sdocial security

  • Lord (01/06/2015, 15:48) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    It's so funny to come online and watch blogs about financial services where people don't even have a clue what they are talking about. Carry on my good people, carry on.
    • @Lord (01/06/2015, 16:43) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
      A lot of us including myself have worked in the industry. These things should NOT be taken likely as perception is a boss even though allegations of wrong doing may not have happened. The fact that there is a constant attack on Financial Services jurisdictions from industrialised nations is of major concern as we do not export tangible goods for generation in our economy.
    • Platelet (01/06/2015, 16:59) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      Thank you Lord! Im amazed at the level of asinine comments myself. They have no clue. As Plato so aptly put it, "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something."
  • NDP heckler (01/06/2015, 16:48) Like (20) Dislike (1) Reply
    We have to be very careful because i can remember when a NDP minister tried to bring in Allen Stanford here.
  • jokers (01/06/2015, 19:53) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
    NDP =BUSH GOVERMENT---WHITEPEOPLE WAR AND DESASTER
    VIP =OBOMA GOVERMENT----BLACK PEOPLE SUCCESS
    PICK ONE
  • TOLA MASSIVE (02/06/2015, 07:37) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    bvifa elections are considered undemocratic .I hope and pray none of bvi officials are implicated
  • Hmm (02/06/2015, 07:38) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    there already is not funding for the FIFA stadium already...hmmm


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