The US Attorney’s Office in Virginia’s Eastern District has opened a criminal investigation into alleged financial irregularities by the Washington Commanders, ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon.
The report comes hours after news that Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder have hired Bank of America Securities to help with a potential sale of the team.
The report comes months after the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission detailing allegations that Daniel Snyder withheld refundable deposits from ticket holders and hid revenue from the NFL .
The NFL declined to comment to ESPN when asked directly if it was aware of the federal criminal investigation.
“The NFL assigned former SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White in April to investigate this matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN. “The review is ongoing.”
Attorneys general in Virginia and Washington, DC are also investigating allegations of fraudulent business practices and financial irregularities by the organization.
Dan Snyder is now reportedly considering selling the franchise, which is valued at $5.6 billion
The team released a statement earlier Wednesday regarding a possible sale of the commanders.
“The Snyders remain committed to the team, all of its employees and its countless fans to bring the best product to the field and to continue the work to set the gold standard for jobs in the NFL,” the team announced.
Snyder has already received “at least four calls” from parties interested in buying the team, according to a Forbes.com report Wednesday.
Snyder is said to be exploring all options, including selling the entire franchise or a minority stake.
In recent years there have been calls to sell Snyder, although so far he has resisted
“Any potential transaction would have to be submitted to the NFL Finance Committee for consideration and would require a positive vote of three-fourths of the full membership (24 of 32 teams),” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday.
In August, Forbes valued the Commanders at $5.6 billion, sixth among the NFL’s 32 teams. Snyder also owns FedEx Field and the 264-acre property that surrounds it, as well as the 150-acre team headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia.
According to Forbes, this season’s sponsorship revenue is up 40 percent from 2021 since the team was renamed the Commanders from Washington Football Team.
BofA Securities, formerly known as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, provides mergers and acquisitions services.
The Commanders are 4-4 this season but bottom in a hard-fought NFC East division
“We understand the challenges our customers face around the world,” the company’s website states. ‘We combine local knowledge and a global perspective to tailor solutions to our clients’ goals.’
The bank processed Steve Ballmer’s 2014 purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Snyder, 57, bought what was then known as the Washington Redskins in 1999.
Snyder’s wife Tanya has been in charge of day-to-day operations since July 2021, when the NFL fined the team $10 million for promoting a toxic work culture.
The discovery of a potential financial impropriety came amid the investigation by the Washington Committee on Sexual Harassment at Work. The committee began looking at the finances after combing through 80,000 pages of sexual harassment documents and witness interviews, the Washington Post reported March 31.
The financial allegations center on testimony from Jason Friedman, who worked for the franchise for 24 years. When he was released from the club, he held the title of vice president of sales and customer service.
Friedman told the committee that the team kept “two books” to underreport ticketing to the NFL. Revenue from Commanders games would instead be reported as originating from non-NFL events such as college football games or concerts. Those funds were called “juice” — extra money for the team and kept hidden so as not to be subject to the NFL’s revenue sharing pool, the letter said.
The committee also noted that Snyder withheld up to $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders.