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British bank Barclays launches FIFA corruption probe

British bank Barclays has reportedly launched an internal probe into whether company accounts were used for corrupt payments by FIFA officials. The financial institution is one of three banks named in a US indictment.

An unnamed banking official told the AFP news agency Sunday that the bank had launched an internal investigation into how its accounts had been used by FIFA officials.

The probe comes after Barclays was cited in a US fraud probe into corruption at FIFA, the world's governing football body.

The accusations come as seven FIFA executives were arrested this week in Zurich.

British law enforcement officials announced Friday there was incriminating evidence against FIFA.

"The Serious Fraud Office is actively investigating the material at hand and has made it clear it is willing to assist international investigations," a spokesperson said in London.

US fraud investigators allege FIFA funds had been distributed amongst accounts with major British banks Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

'More indictments to come'

US authorities have charged 14 people in connection with the wide-ranging FIFA corruption scandal, said to involve more than $150 million (13.7 million euros).

Richard Weber, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) leader of criminal investigations, told "The New York Times" Friday that he foresaw indictments beyond the 14 FIFA officials accused of racketeering and accepting $150 million in bribes to rig marketing contracts and the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup.

Weber didn't identify who the IRS might be targeting, or say whether they included newly re-elected FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter.

"I'm fairly confident that we will have another round of indictments," Weber told the paper.

Blatter 'wrong person'

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said FIFA would have to relocate the 2018 and 2022 World Cups from Russia and Qatar, respectively, if it turned out that its selection had been bought.

Maas told the German daily "Bild" that "the awarding of a World Cup shouldn't depend on who pays the highest bribes" and called Blatter the wrong person to investigate alleged graft, saying FIFA needed "a fresh start."

Russia President Vladimir Putin has accused US authorities of initiating the corruption probe in order to strip his country of hosting the 2018 World Cup.

jlw/tj (AFP, SID, dpa)

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