External advisors investigate FIFA corruption culture

13 August 2015 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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With the FIFA embroiled in controversy over corruption in the upper echelons of its management, the organisation has launched an internal probe to get to the bottom of the issue. In what is a common move by organisations battling corruption charges, FIFA has hired an independent party, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, to run the internal probe. This is however the second internal probe into possible corruption run by the organisation in recent years, with the first such probe given the run-around.

In recent months the FIFA has come under international scrutiny for alleged corruption that has gone on within the organisations boundaries for some time now. US prosecutors indicted nine former soccer officials – many of whom were employed by FIFA – as well as five marketing officials for the sport. The crime – corruption in the form of more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks for media and marketing rights, among others.

As part of its own investigation into allegations of corruption within the FIFA, the organisation recently launched an internal investigation into the affair. The internally activated investigation will turn to a third party for independence, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a US law firm, hired to conduct the review. The results of their investigation are, according to sources for Reuters, to be released also to the US authorities.

FIFA - Soccer

A FIFA spokeswoman for the Zurich-based organisation comments: “We are dedicated to improving the organisation, and will continue to strengthen FIFA’s governance and accountability. Our work in this area continuously evolves, and we are focused on achieving the highest standards for the international football community.”

Common practice
Hiring an external and independent party to run an internal investigation is seen as common practice in cases of corruption. Such investigations are often undertaken to show that the company is willingly helping the prosecutors get to the bottom of the alleged offending. “One thing to understand about these internal investigations is how rigorous they are. Really, every company does them,” says Michael Fine, an anti-bribery and compliance expert at the New York consulting firm LRN.

As it stands, FIFA is still acting as though it is the victim of corruption within its ranks, however, this may still change as the prosecutors still have the authority to add the organisation as a defendant if new evidence comes to light and they are no longer satisfied with the organisation’s behaviour, say lawyers in the case. US authorities are continuing their investigation into the allegations and further people may be indicted. The Swiss case too is continuing, with Swiss prosecutors going after possible corruption in the awarding of the World Cup hosting rights to Russia for 2018 and to Qatar for 2022.

FIFA World Cup Russia 2018


Earlier probes
The probe by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is not the first such probe to be launched at the FIFA, with an earlier investigation by Michael Garcia of Kirkland & Ellis, another US law firm, into corruption in awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups being given the run around. The Garcia report was though never made public, and Garcia himself was though forced (in protest) to quit his position in December last year after it became apparent that his report was being swept under the table.