Money laundering, football and the press – part 2 (with added Lassana Diara)
In our first article in this series exposing corruption in football we took a quick look at the situation at Tottenham and the minor matter of how a set of phone records got into the wrong hands – before contemplating the strange case of Peter Storrie, ex-colleague of Arry Redknapp, and who, after a preliminary court hearing seems to have vanished from the legal scene.
The second article opened up the whole can of worms that is money laundering in football, and the attitude of the UK press to it. We concluded with the hypothesis that the English media may have a certain reluctance to report on “money laundering” in conjunction with English football. This in turn leads us to some further money laundering allegations that may have appeared in relation to Portsmouth.
In the interim we have been greatly helped by fans of Southampton who have compiled what must be the biggest dossier on wrong doing at a club ever produced.
So now we move on to another report, which apparently was generated by news service Agence France-Presse. But it received so little English language coverage that I feel compelled to include the disclaimer that I am currently unsure about the validity of the report. However, at the current time, I can find no evidence that the allegation has been refuted:
“Paris, France – French press announces that Real Madrid’s midfielder, Lassana Diarra, has entered French Financial Police’s sights, the motive of investigation being his transfer from Portsmouth to Real Madrid.
The French international, Lassana Diarra, aged 26, is under investigation in his country for the alleged crimes of money laundering and tax evasion – at least this is what a regional newspaper in France has revealed yesterday….
The publication…said that the Police investigation orbits around a firm in Le Havre and another one from Switzerland that would have served as ‘mask.’”
I also found the following report on the same subject:
“Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra is facing charges relating to a tax fraud probe by police in Le Havre, AFP reported citing the French regional paper Paris-Normandie.
The 26-year-old defender has been placed under official judicial investigation.
Football agent John Williams has also been targeted in the affair, notably for his role in Diarra’s 20 million euro (£18.9 million) transfer from Portsmouth to Real Madrid in January 2009.”
If one of our French-speaking readers would be interested in further investigating these alleged charges against Diarra in the French media, I would be very much interested to hear the results.
Finally, the following article, concerning Antonov’s previous attempt to purchase Scotland’s Rangers, gives a little bit of relevant background information (although I cannot personally vouch for the veracity and/or accuracy of this information that was reported in the Scottish press). This article is from 15 August, 2010 (emphasis included in original article):
“THE Russian tycoon putting up almost £75million to buy Rangers is from a dynasty dogged by allegations of links to the MAFIA and MONEY-LAUNDERING…
Antonov, 35, has had to angrily deny stories that his family’s business empire is associated with the underworld and money-laundering.
The banking magnate recently had a third £6million bid to buy AFC Bournemouth rejected by the lowly English team. And last year his father Alexander, 60, survived being shot 18 times outside his luxury Moscow apartment in a failed assassination attempt.
Antonov and his business associate Roman Dubov are providing most of the cash for English property developer Andrew Ellis to launch a new bid for the SPL champs…
Rangers fans will be hoping he can pour millions into their club – just like his fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has done at Chelsea.”
And on one final note (which I want to emphasize is not necessarily related, in any respect, to the current criminal allegations against persons linked to Portsmouth football club), the Financial Action Task Force noted in its 2009 report titled “Money Laundering Through The Football Sector” that:
“Tax evasion and money laundering often use the same mechanisms. For example the money launderer may seek to conceal the proceeds of crime in corporate entities registered in regimes which have light financial regulation or strict banking secrecy laws. The tax evader will seek out the same secrecy jurisdictions.
For a football club the channelling of money in a transfer deal through companies resident in low tax jurisdictions may be a method of laundering money, equally it may be tax evasion. And it is also likely that both offences may be present.
The financial investigator faced with a complex series of transactions will have at some point to distinguish between money laundering and tax evasion as the objective… Whilst tax evasion may be the predicate offence behind money laundering it is also likely that the objective of the suspicious activity is tax evasion…
In the latter case recovering the proceeds of crime may be better effected by the application of tax powers and the recovery of tax, interest, and civil penalties.”
Untold readers can expect further articles following up on some of the issues raised in this article. However, if anyone would like to do their own research, the above-linked FATF report on money laundering would be a good place to start.
Also, here are a few more of the (many) news reports on money laundering allegations that are in some way linked to English football players, clubs, and/or related parties (although it must be emphasized that Untold cannot vouch for the veracity of any of these reported allegations, and thus takes no position with regard to the ultimate truth or falsity thereof). The links to the media sources making these allegations may all be found below:
From 7 September, 2011:
Anti-mafia investigators in Italy want to interview Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli over a visit he made to a known mafia hot spot in Naples….The move is part of a wider investigation into money laundering.”
From 24 February, 2011:
“According to the Irish newspaper, Irish Examiner, Valeri Belokon, the owner of British football club, Blackpool FC, ‘categorically denies any involvement in money laundering in Kyrgyzstan.’
Belokon is one of the 32 people indicted after the April coup in 2010 on corruption and money-laundering charges by the Attorney General of Kyrgyzstan.”
From 16 February, 2011:
“Lawyer and former Dundee Football Club director Giovanni di Stefano has been arrested in Spain following a UK investigation into money-laundering allegations.”
From 2 September, 2010:
“’Spot fixer’ Majeed laundered £20 mn through football club
British Customs officials suspect that businessman-cum-spot fixer Mazhar Majeed laundered over 20-million-pounds through a non-league football club he owned.
Millionaire Majeed, who is accused of orchestrating the global betting scam that has rocked Pakistan and world cricket, is said to have boasted he invested vast sums of money from the racket in Croydon Athletic Football Club.”
Related, from 4 October, 2010:
Mazhar Majeed’s Football Club Chief David Dies
The chairman of a south London football club whose owner was linked to the cricket match-fixing scandal has died.
David Le Cluse, 44, the chairman of Croydon Athletic Football Club was found dead on Saturday with a bullet wound in a garage in Sutton.
The club was probed for suspected money-laundering after its owner Mazhar Majeed was arrested over match-fixing allegations against the Pakistan team…
The club chairman’s body was found with a bullet wound to the head at 1040 BST on Saturday in a garage in Park Gate Road, Sutton, close to his home in Surrey. A statement from the Metropolitan Police said:
‘A 44-year-old man suffered what is believed to have been a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The circumstances of his death are being treated as unexplained. Inquiries are ongoing.’”
According to subsequent reports in the English media, the above death was a suicide.
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