49 responses

  1. Mahdain
    29/12/2011

    wow hats off to you Anne..amazing article which puts to light what we already know i.e the english premier league is not whiter than white as some people tend to believe and the lack of media coverage on the issue really says something doesnt it? they will go to any extent to ensure the reputation of the league is not tarnished which is kinda sad as these things need to be cleared up for the betterment of the league….

  2. kampala gun
    29/12/2011

    Hi Anne you are a Genius. Happy New Year and bring us more.

  3. WalterBroeckx
    29/12/2011

    When Mandaric is in town…., there seems to be some kind of trouble around….

  4. Arvind
    29/12/2011

    Thanks Anne. While I admit I do not click on every link in this post, I applaud your consistent attempts to get to the heart of all such scandals as best as possible. Keep up the fab work.

    Lassana Diarra in the next post? Now that I cannot wait to hear about…

  5. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Mahdain:

    Thanks, I’m glad you liked the article. Unfortunately, things are only going to get dirtier as we continue with this series.

  6. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Kampala Gun:

    Wow… Thanks 🙂

  7. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Arvind:

    Glad you liked the article. Don’t worry about not clicking on the links. I include them just so that people can verify my reports for accuracy, form their own conclusions, etc., but I’ll generally explain what you need to know about the article.

    And there’s not a whole lot out there about Diarra allegations. At least not in English. I’m hoping that someone who speaks French can check the French media for more on that topic.

  8. Phil Gregory
    29/12/2011

    What’s happening re: Diarra? I can scout a few articles if you like?

  9. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Walter:

    I’ll be sure to take a closer look at Mandaric.

  10. bjtgooner
    29/12/2011

    Excellent article Anne, I really admire the effort that must have gone into the preparation. As you intended, the article does initiate the thinking process and many questions will start to pop up.

    Shortly after ‘Arry left Portsmouth, the club’s financial difficulties became public knowledge. Players had to be sold but this alone did not remove the threat of collapse. There followed a rather convoluted sequence of (possible) buyers until the club was sold to Mr Antonov – the first time his name seemed to publically appear. I wonder did Mr Antonov have any earlier interests (financial or otherwise) in the UK?

    The question of the BBC or others not fully reporting the money laundering story is also very interesting; but this is not an entirely new departure for the BBC – MOTD rarely provides accurate coverage of Arsenal matches. I would speculate that the BBC omission in this case was not an oversight.

  11. Shard
    29/12/2011

    This is very interesting and a great bit of research Anne. Money laundering in football. I guess it is just another part of the corrupt machine that football has become. Money laundering actually does explain why so many people are willing to ‘invest’ their money into football clubs. Most clubs make no profits and even those that do, have a very low level of return for the amounts of money that is being put in earlier. Rich people do not give away their money and certainly not for some perceived acclaim or ‘glory’. Yes they might like their name up in lights, but there are far simpler ways to get that. And I’m betting most of them actually want their name to never be mentioned.

    So much money is going into a loss making industry, which has basically no accountability, vague regulations and arbitrary enforcement. And the press, the ones who are supposed to bring us the truth by asking questions, don’t care to delve deeper. In fact they instantly dismiss or discredit any attempt to demand better. If its about referees they say we moan. If it’s about the press itself, they all get together and say there’s no agenda and we’re paranoid. If it’s about someone showing the shady deals to buy a football club, they don’t mention it except to ridicule it (Isn’t Bryan Robson still ManU’s Global Ambassador?) All the while, the match fixing, the pushing of xenophobic agendas, destruction of any development in football, and I guess the money laundering, all can continue.

  12. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @bjtgooner:

    Thanks, glad you liked it. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this subject (part of the reason I’ve been so busy lately), and hopefully this won’t be the last article on the subject.

    However, this actually isn’t the first time that Mr. Antonov’s name has turned up publicly. I’ve covered this a bit in part 2 of the article, but it appears that Mr. Antonov was actually trying to take over a football club for at least a year before he got Portsmouth, and didn’t seem to care too much about which football club it was.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with the 200 million pounds of other people’s money that he apparently “lost?”

  13. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Phil:

    Ok, I’m going to try this one more time… I’ve tried to respond to you twice and for some reason it wasn’t letting me. So, this might eventually end up being one of three responses 🙂

    Basically, there was a report cited from the French media (apparently the French regional paper Paris-Normandie) that Diarra was under investigation (or possibly indictment) for money laundering in connection with his transfer from Portsmouth to Real Madrid.

    But I haven’t been able to find any follow up whatsoever. I was wondering if there might be something in the French media. If you want to take a look, that would be great.

  14. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Shard:

    As usual, I completely agree with you. I’m trying to think of something to add but finding it difficult 🙂 Doing my research on money laundering, I was actually amazed at how much information was out there, even relating to charges.

    Based on that, I’d say that the fact that the EPL is being used for money laundering (allegedly) is one of the worst kept secrets in the world. Let’s call it an “open secret.” And that makes the press even more culpable for not making the public adequately aware of it.

    What do you think the media’s motive might be?

  15. Mahdain
    29/12/2011

    @anne the only motive i can think of behind their lack of reporting is that perhaps their bosses are in it(would you bet against it?) and they dont want to report these findings as they may put them in hot water and hence the silence

  16. Phil Gregory
    29/12/2011

    Anne – I’ll have a look and email you any interesting articles (translated!)

  17. Frank Rizzo
    29/12/2011

    It must be more than just a coincidence that money laundering allegations have been made against Carson Yeung (Birmigham City owner) and Thaksin Shinawatra (ex Man City owner) although any coverage I see is at pains to say this is not related to the running of their football clubs. I can only assume that the press does not want to taint the premier league and until there is hard evidence of ML in the EPL and a conviction the press are happy to under report it. Unfortunately football in not the only sport that is a attractive target – at the moment there are allegations in cricket that money laundering goes on in the Indian Premier League.

  18. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Mahdain:

    One other possible motive that I’ve thought of is just plain old fear… Isn’t it the general reputation of powerful organized crime figures that they don’t take too kindly to people who try to expose their operations? 🙂

  19. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Phil:

    Thanks a lot, that would be a big help.

  20. Sammy The Snake
    29/12/2011

    Great stuff, Anne, thanks!

    Dirty money must somehow flow back to it’s source, what better way than overpriced footballers. In fact, money laundering operations always look for “products” for which it is next to impossible to assign a value to. If a company overpriced a box of chocolates, it would be so easy to figure out what they’re doing. But who’s to say “player X” is worth a million or 10 million?!?!

    I like your train of thoughts. I’ll research into the practices of money laundering and report it to you. My hunch is that football is a great target for them.

  21. Tasos
    29/12/2011

    Sorry to go off topic but there’s big rumours that a certain T Henry will be returning for two months.

  22. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Frank Rizzo:

    Don’t think I’ve seen you around before, so thanks for commenting. If you continue to follow my series on money laundering, you might be surprised at exactly how much evidence there is on the subject.

    Just as an example, take a look at this excerpt from a 2009 Guardian article titled “Football is ‘vulnerable’ to money laundering, but no names named:”

    “Today’s report by the Financial Action Task Force raises the spectre, in calm, plain language, that football is vulnerable to criminals, who might take over beloved local clubs or use the transfer system to launder dirty money or evade tax. Some of it is not mightily surprising, but still, there is something startling about reading these warnings, set out calmly in an official report by an inter-governmental body whose job is ‘to protect the global financial system against money laundering and terrorist financing.'”

    In particular, take a look at what it has to say about the FA, here:

    “One of the frustrations reading the report is that it cites actual cases which it says were referred to it by authorities in 22 countries which answered questionnaires – our FA has confirmed that it did so – yet no names are given, and we are not told if any action was taken.”

    I’ll be breaking down this FATF report in detail later in the series, but, as the above article indicates, the FA did in fact contribute data to this report, which was used to develop case studies, breaking down exactly how money laundering occurs in football.

    It kind of makes you wonder how much the FA really knows, doesn’t it?

  23. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Sammy the Snake:

    Thank you very much. It sounds like you actually have a very good grasp of how this stuff works, so I’m quite impressed. In fact, the FATF report that I just mentioned above makes the exact same point that you just did about player transfers in the section titled “Irrational character of the sums involved and unpredictability over future results”:

    “Prices for players can appear irrational and are hard to control…sport is essentially characterised by a high
    level of unpredictability over future results. This ‘culture of unpredictability,’ might lead to an increased
    tolerance towards seemingly irrational payments.”

    If you want to help me out with some research on this, that would be great. If you just do a google search for “money laundering” and football, you’ll turn up a huge number of results, so I could use as much help as possible. Particularly from someone like you, who appears to already have a good basic understanding of the subject.

    If you’d be interested in touching base with me, I can give you the breakdown on everything I’ve found through my research so far, and we can maybe coordinate something for you to do. My email address can be found here:

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/13259

    Thanks for commenting, and hope to hear from you.

  24. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @All:

    Just wanted to say that the offer I made to Sammy, above, is also open to anyone else who might be interested in helping me with research, or who just wants to learn more about this subject.

  25. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Tasos:

    Should I put you down as predicting an Henry transfer on my transfer rumours quiz? 🙂

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/17534

  26. SPC259
    29/12/2011

    Great Article Anne.

    I believe that there’s an interesting link to be found between Mandaric, Alex Gaydamak and his dad Arcady, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Ali al-Faraj (who passed the FA’s fit & proper test but doesn’t exist), Balram Chainrai, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Antonov and some dodgy deals involving ….. 🙂

    http://rumafia.com/index.php

  27. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @SPC259:

    Thanks. Like I just told Sammy the Snake, I’m impressed with the amount of knowledge that you apparently already have about this subject. I’m not familiar with Mandaric’s history at all, but now that both you and Walter have tipped me off to him, I’ll definitely have to take a closer look.

    And by the way, I like your rumafia.com link. I’ve actually been digging around that site quite a bit myself lately 🙂

    @Sammy the Snake:

    If you’re serious about doing some research, would you be interested in possibly looking into Mandaric (includng this “link” that SPC259 just referred to)?

  28. WalterBroeckx
    29/12/2011

    Great work Anne, once again. I send you a few links in a mail maybe Phil can have a look at them as for the moment I have my own articles to write. About refs… surprise surprise. 😉

    The name Mandaric was also involved in football in Belgium a few years ago. But couldn’t find much on him. But I do think if I remember correct he had some strange friends at times who later were found guilty of some financial wrong doing. But really can’t find much on this to be honest.

  29. Anne
    29/12/2011

    @Walter:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to find those Diarra links. Phil has actually already agreed to take a look at them for me, so just go ahead and get to work on those ref articles so that I can read them 🙂

    As for Mandaric, he’s definitely an interesting character (and the Mirror’s fawning coverage in this article is noteworthy in and of itself):

    Mandaric, 69, was one of five people arrested last week… He refuses to go into the specifics of the investigation, but he is keen to clear up a key accusation after the police admitted they held him on a separate issue of suspicion of money laundering.

    Mandaric said: “That particular point is a real issue to me and will undoubtedly lead to all sort of misguided claims and accusations. The facts are the police seized some money that was in my possession, all of which I can legitimately substantiate where it came from.

    “It is not part of the football investigation, it’s a separate issue. It is standard practice by the police to use moneylaundering provisions if they seize any amount of cash from someone.

    “And the money will be returned once the Police have completed their investigation.”

    Yet despite the traumatic experience Mandaric was quick to praise the police for the courteous and respectful way they dealt with him.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport-old/football/2007/12/02/mandaric-nothing-to-hide-115875-20192096/

  30. Phil Gregory
    29/12/2011

    Untold Detectives. I like it!

  31. Anne
    29/12/2011

    More background on Mandaric (and some of his “business” associates):

    *Interestingly, I was already planning to do an article in this series about this “super agent” Pini Zahadi, so I guess I would have found my way to Mandaric in any case.

    “Arkady Gaydamak the billionaire father of Alexandre, the man set to take joint control of Portsmouth.

    The millionaire in question is 30-year-old Alexandre Gaydamak, apparently a man of considerable means, but about whom little is actually known.

    A French citizen with business interests in Israel and Russia, Gaydamak has lived in the UK for some time where he is understood to have made his fortune from banking and real estate.

    Let us move on, then, to Alexandre’s father; 52-year-old Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionaire businessman with Angolan, Canadian, French, Israeli and Russian passports.

    Arkady made his fortune in France, having arrived there in the early 1970s. However, he was forced to flee in 2000 when French magistrates issued a warrant for his arrest relating to arms-for-oil deals with Angola. Since then he is understood to have divided his time between Tel Aviv and Moscow. More recently Arkady was questioned by Israeli police in connection with allegations of money laundering; allegations like those pertaining to the Angolan affair that Arkady has denied.

    Interestingly, Arkady last year became involved in football, buying a 50 per cent stake in Beitar Jerusalem; some newspapers insist he is a big football fan, while others suggest his interest in the game is exaggerated and his real motive for involvement is related more to status and politics than sport.

    Nevertheless, Arkady Gaydamak is adamant that he has absolutely no part in his son’s move to buy 50 per cent of Portsmouth from Milan Mandaric in a deal valued at £15 million.

    Which brings us to everyone’s favourite self-styled ‘super agent’ Pini Zahavi…the reason Alexandre has become so enamoured with Portsmouth.

    This is the same Pini Zahavi who brokered Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea, presided over Rio Ferdinand’s protracted contract negotiations with Manchester United and arranged the controversial ‘meeting’ between Ashley Cole and Chelsea head honchos Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon, who incidentally Zahavi was equally instrumental in uprooting from FC Porto and Manchester United respectively.”

    http://www.bootroom.org/smf/index.php?topic=7663.0;wap2

  32. WalterBroeckx
    30/12/2011

    On April 1, 2008 the news in Belgium was that Mandaric was holding talks with Namur (second division team at the time) for a take over. So that was what the money was for I guess… 😉

    Wait a minute …April 1…. 🙂 Serious now it was not reported as an Aprils fool joke…

  33. WalterBroeckx
    30/12/2011

    A translated article about the Portsmouth case said that Portsmouth going from some £56.000 in the season 2005/2006 paid at agents to £1.000.000 in the season 2006/2007 and that this looked rather suspicious.
    Mandaric and Arry in charge at the time…

    And I also found a link saying that Milan Mandaric was a bit close to …. Bernard Tapie. The man who was put in prison for corruption when he was president of Marseille. The enemy of our Arsène Wenger and our assistant coach Primorac…

    It’s a small world…

  34. Jack Williams
    30/12/2011

    Have a long, long, long read about Portsmouth here:-
    http://www.saintsweb.co.uk/showthread.php?14620-Pompey-Takeover-Saga

    .

  35. PFC Gaz
    30/12/2011

    http://www.saintsweb.co.uk/showthread.php?14620-Pompey-Takeover-Saga

    That is a 930 page thread on a southampton fan site, chronicalling the absolute disaster/car crash that has been Pompey’s ownership since 2009. It digs into every detail, all the horrible facts that came out when Andrew Anronikou destroyed my club with his CVA to exit Admin (when cancer charities and St John’s Ambulance were shafted along with HMRC in favour of Sol and all the players), all the info about Vlad and his cronies, the whole sordid affair.

    I’m a true blue and hate to admit it, but those Scummers called out every owner we had, backed it up with facts and articles and have been spot on every single time.

    Start on page one, and we’ll see you in 4 weeks time when you’ve gotten to the bottom of the situation.

    PLAY UP POMPEY!!!

  36. Brickfields Gunners
    30/12/2011

    Anne , guys – great work ,great read ,great leads – keep it up and lets see what falls out/down.
    Happy New Year to all .Cheers !

  37. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @Walter:

    That’s really good information that you turned up, particularly about the payments to agents at Portsmouth. Do you happen to have a link to that article, or is it one of the ones that you already sent me? Thanks.

  38. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @Brickfields:

    Thank you, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  39. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @Walter:

    I doubt that it was an April fools joke, considering the rather large number of football clubs that Mandaric appears to have attempted to take an ownership interest in 🙂

  40. Just an honest fan
    30/12/2011

    Anne,

    There’s a huge amount of information on the situation at Portsmouth since Gaydamak’s sale to Al Fahim in 2009, on the Southampton supporters independent website at http://www.saintsweb.co.uk/showthread.php?14620-Pompey-Takeover-Saga

    Lots of very curious links between the shady characters involved. Particularly interesting is the history of involvement of Balram Chainrai, who put the club into admin in 2010, appears again to “own” the club, and who has links to the Gaydamaks stretching back several years.

    And before buying Portsmouth, Antonov previously tried to buy Bournemouth and Glasgow Rangers, but was sent packing.

  41. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @Just an honest fan:

    Thank you very much for this information resource. Until now, I’ve been focusing more on compiling a broad overview of money laundering in the football sector. As a result, I’ve only looked at the Portsmouth case in a collateral way.

    But based on the information that you and others have provided me with here, I’m beginning to think that Portsmouth might turn out to be an ideal case study for these larger issues that I’m trying to highlight. I’ll definitely follow up on this. Again, thanks.

  42. Tony
    30/12/2011

    Sorry to jump in for a second – just had one of our famous techno glitches, and I need to ensure that comments are appearing as per normal. Just ignore me.

  43. bob
    30/12/2011

    Walter,
    Is Tapie the name of Nasri’s current agent, or linked to Nasri’s agent? One of the figures in the Marseilles football scandal had it in for Primorac/Arsene from back in that day, and his name was mentioned on UA commentary around the time of Sami’s departure…

  44. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @bob:

    Ok, trying to leave this post for the third time…

    EXCELLENTLY spotted! Damn… I’m impressed 🙂 Check out the following article (I could only find a cached version,so the link looks strange):

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:OfOGk6MtqikJ:sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/ben_lyttleton/08/19/jean-pierre.bernes.frances.most.powerful.agent/index.html+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

  45. Anne
    30/12/2011

    @Jack Williams and PFC Gaz:

    Thanks to both of you as well for linking me to this thread. I’m just now working on plowing through it all, but I’m finding it quite interesting.

    @PFC Gaz:

    I’m really happy to get feedback on this article from a Portsmouth fan, so thank you very much for commenting.

  46. Tony
    30/12/2011

    Just an honest fan – and indeed anyone else – as an outsider looking in the situation at Rangers looks extraordinary. I have written about them a couple of times, with judges ring fencing money, the owner denying that he had ever been banned from running a company, only to admit it, and the ever present threat of administration or even liquidation.

    Rangers are high on the list of clubs ready to fall – which is extraordinary considering where they are in the footballing world.

    And that leads to the question as to why people like the current owner get into clubs like Rangers. Of course I have no evidence to lead to any accusations in this particular case, but if you consider a situation in which a man of dubious repute wants to move about a lot of cash hither and yon, where better that to do it with a football club that is surrounded by naive young men who can’t believe how much money they are making, big businesses that want to move money around quickly, agents who seem to have no boundaries, and general run of the mill financial crooks.

    I am getting to the opinion that if football didn’t exist the financial criminal underworld would need to invent it.

  47. Tony
    30/12/2011

    Don’t forget the next part of the saga is now up

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/17658

  48. Rhys Jaggar
    30/12/2011

    I suggest in all humility that if you don’t want to be regarded as a hatchet merchant, that an article investigating Vladimir Antonov does not discuss Harry Redknapp, as the man had left Portsmouth FC at least 2 years before Antonov came to the Club.

    This site has a very great obsession with stuffing Harry Redknapp: I suggest you provide the evidence to put him in prison if that is your aim and to be sued to high heaven if you can’t prove it whilst constantly smearing him.

    Harry Redknapp has no published links to Vladimir Antonov and I suggest you prove otherwise if you wish to smear his name in articles of this kind.

    As for links between drugs, money laundering and the EPL, I’d keep digging if I were you.

  49. Sammy The Snake
    30/12/2011

    @ Jagger:

    Your loyalty toward Harry is interesting.

    The two gentlemen could potentially/allegedly be crooks in their own right. One doesn’t need to be linked to the other.

    Having said that, a corrupt new owner will look to buy a club that is expert in such business activities!

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