Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Money laundering

Posted by John Beech on July 1, 2009

A new report (1) by FATF, an intergovernmental body (2), draws attention to a number of cases of money laundering which have taken place in the football industry.

To be clear, money laundering includes not only the popular image of piles of numbered banknotes from a robbery that need to be converted in clean money, but ranges through various white collar crimes related to ‘bungs’ and ‘kick backs’, to tax evasion.

Only last week an instance came through the English courts involving former directors of Derby County (in no way associated with the present management team) and there were some guilty verdicts (3). Back in the nineties, Stephen Vaughan, now at Chester City (see 4 and 5) was investigated with respect to the laundering of drug monies, but no charges were brought (6).

I doubt that money laundering is in any way a widespread problem in English football, but what the report highlights is its vulnerability to becoming a vehicle for money laundering. Specific reasons, the report argues, for this include the culture of secrecy (7) and the way that criminals are drawn to sport, and football in particular, because of the celebrity lifestyle associated with the ‘big rollers’.

Perhaps another reason that ethical issues may be pushed to one side is also cultural: the compelling idea that ‘the club is everything’ and ‘winning is everything’, even that ‘staying up is everything’.

However much governance is tightened up, there is a need to tackle the problem at its causes rather than tackling the symptoms. The fact the causes are essentially ones related to organisational culture make the solutions especially challenging.


2 Responses to “Money laundering”

  1. John Beech said

    HMRC have confirmed that they provided information to FATF for two of the anonymised cases quoted in the report (1)

  2. […] clubs were particularly vulnerable to being used as vehicles for money laundering.  In July 2009 I blogged on a report (7) by FATF, an intergovernmental body (8), which drew attention to a number of cases […]

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