Thursday, October 29, 2020

Rabobank to stop working with football clubs over money-laundering fears

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Rabobank is no longer taking professional football clubs as clients due to “raised to unacceptable risks of money laundering, corruption, fraud and other abuses”, NRC reports based on an internal message the bank circulated this summer.

Rabobank employees are also no longer allowed “to take on new managerial or supervisory positions” at professional football organizations due to a “potential conflict of interest”, the message said.

This decision is remarkable because 80 percent of professional football organizations in the Netherlands are clients of Rabobank and the bank maintains close ties with many clubs, according to the newspaper.

Related: Rabobank fined €1 million for poor money laundering checks

Research by NRC showed that the bank sometimes uses its existing relationships with a football club as a means of pressure. For example, when first division clubs Roda JC and FC Den Bosch were considering allowing controversial foreign investors to buy in, Rabobank informed them that this could have far-reaching consequences, including the closing of their bank account, people involved told the newspaper.

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Rabobank refused to respond to the newspaper’s questions about individual clubs. But a spokesperson told NRC that the same rules apply to football clubs as other customers.

“That means, for example, that after research we classify customers into so-called risk categories and that we conduct a more in-depth investigation into the customer if there is an increased integrity risk.” Given the risks, Rabobank is “very cautious” with new football club customers, but continues to support ongoing sponsorship and marketing activities, the spokesperson said.

According to NRC, both football association KNVB and football clubs were reluctant to respond to questions on this matter.

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