Apparently OFAC has decided that 7 months is too long a period to go without placing a Colombian soccer team on the SDN list. Included among the 10 individuals and 14 entities associated with the La Oficina de Envigado drug trafficking organizationdesignated this week by Treasury, is theEnvigado Futbol Club S.A. Enivgado F.C. is a member of the Colombian first division and is the former club of Real Madrid superstar and World Cup Golden Boot winnerJames Rodriguez.
“La Oficina has played a significant role in large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering activities, and this action builds on our continued efforts to target the cartel from all angles” said OFAC Director Adam Szubin.
According Treasury’s press release, Envigado F.C. owner Juan Pablo Upegui Gallego “is a key associate within La Oficina and has used his position as the team’s owner to put its finances at the service of La Oficina for many years.”
Close watchers of OFAC’s Recent Actions page may remember that it was only in April that the agencyremoved another Colombian team, America de Cali, from the SDN List. The Cali cartel-linked team spent almost 20 years on list as part of the original “Lista Clinton” Executive Order 12978 sanctions.
At time of publication there has been no comment from Rodriguez, though Envigado F.C. president Ramiro Ruiz insisted his team and its finances are “an open book.”
News that yet another football club has been linked to illicit activity should probably not come as a surprise given the current FBI corruption investigation into FIFA, rampant allegations of match-fixing, and the money-laundering prosecution of a Barclay’s Premier League owner. In fact, Football has long been recognized as vulnerable to corruption and crime; in 2009 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published a 55-page report on “Money Laundering in the Football Sector.”
As far as I know, Envigado F.C. is the only sports franchise currently named on the SDN list. However, it may not be the only franchise blocked under sanctions. According to blog favorite Russian Machine Never Breaks, Executive Order 13661-designee Gennady Timchenko is chairman of the Board of Russia Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and chairman of SKA St. Petersberg, while fellow designees the Brothers Rotenberg are presidents of Moscow’s football and hockey teams, both named Dyanmo Moscow. All three own a joint stake in the Finnish hockey team Jokerit, which recently joined the KHL. Given that under OFAC’s recently-revised Guidance on Entities Owned By Persons Whose Property and Interests in Property are Blocked, at the very least Jokerit is likely blocked by function of law.
Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin might want to think twice about any move back to the KHL, at least while Russia is playing a destabilizing role in the Donbass.