Bilfinger in Center of Latest World Cup Fraud Scandal

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Fraud allegations connected to FIFA’s World Cup are nothing new, especially considering the headlines we’ve seen over the past year. Allegations of cronyism and corruption in the host city selection process have been especially prevalent, and are still being investigated.

This week, however, we learn of another instance of possible fraud and the World Cup, this time linked to a specific company. According to various media outlets, German construction firm Bilfinger is investigating claims of bribes paid by some of its Brazilian employees to secure business for last year’s World Cup in Brazil. According to an article in Deutsche Welle, Bilfinger released a statement about its “comprehensive investigation” and that, specifically, it relates to alleged bribes being paid to officials in connection with orders to supply security command centers at 12 host cities during the month-long event.

So who are the “officials?” According to the article, bribes were allegedly paid to both “Brazilian officials and officials from the world’s football governing body, FIFA.”

The news probably couldn’t come at a worse time for FIFA, a global organization struggling to maintain credibility as several high-profile scandals have come to light. Most recently, allegations that the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar involved a wide range of unethical acts have put FIFA officials on the defensive, and given fuel to critics that the organization needs a complete overhaul in structure and governance.

Corruption can be a cancer to any organization. If the Bilfinger allegations are true, the case will taint both FIFA and the construction vendor, as well as the government officials involved. But it is hard to believe this happened in a vacuum – so if the charges are confirmed, it could also lend suspicion to other vendors and contractors at every level of the World Cup.

At CRI Group, we know the unseen risks posed by contractors and third-party partners, with corruption at or near the top of the list. That’s why our experts focus on the following:

·         Providing third-party risk assessments.

·         Meeting contracting requirements

·         Conducting due diligence

·         Providing management oversight

Our own exclusive Third-Party Risk Management (3PRM) services provide a proactive approach to mitigating risks from third-party affiliations, protecting the organization from liability, brand damage and harm to business. Our service establishes the legal compliance, financial viability and integrity levels of those outside partners, suppliers, customers and other sources worldwide that seek potential affiliations with your business.

We don’t yet know exactly what happened between Bilfinger employees and the officials they were in contact with regarding contracted work in Brazil. But cases like this, it seems more than likely that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s just another potential scandal in an increasingly stormy period for FIFA and the World Cup.