Two arrested by police as fraud investigation looks into Aleksandar Mitrovic transfer to Newcastle
Wednesday morning has brought news of two arrests, as the authorities continue their investigation into suspected fraud and money laundering with regard to the transfer of Aleksandar Mitrovic from Anderlecht to Newcastle United in 2015.
This story first surfaced in April of this year (see below) when police carried out raids in Belgium at Anderlecht’s stadium and training ground, as well as at the Belgian FA and player management company ‘One Goal Management’.
However, anybody hoping that it is Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley who have been taken into custody, will be disappointed.
Instead it is an agent and his assistant who have been arrested, one in Liege (Belgium) and the other in Monaco.
Mike Ashley is actually in London this morning, having an uncomfortable time at the Sports Direct AGM, a meeting from which he has banned the media.
As for Lee Charnley, Tuesday night saw members of The Magpie Group visit the NUFC MD’s house, to personally deliver a letter.
Mike Ashley having promised to pay for an independent auditor to look at Newcastle United’s books and not even replying to the letter from The Magpie Group over a month ago, when they accepted his generous offer.
Police investigating suspected fraud linked to the transfer of Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to Newcastle United have raided properties in Belgium, Monaco and London, arresting two people including an agent, officials said Wednesday.
The probe, which earlier this year saw the Belgian FA headquarters searched, is looking into suspected money-laundering related to transfers including Mitrovic’s 18.5 million euro (13 million pound) move from Anderlecht to St James’ Park in 2015.
Under the direction of a Belgian anti-corruption judge, police and tax officials swooped on Tuesday and Wednesday, detaining an agent in Monaco and his assistant in the Belgian city of Liege.
“The facts involve notably money-laundering operations and private corruption in the context of football player transfers,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The inquiry is separate from Belgium’s so-called “footballgate” scandal, which has resulted in 20 suspects being charged since October 2018, including agents, referees and club officials, in a vast investigation into fraud and match-fixing.
Mitrovic, whose committed, physical style of play won him something of a cult following among Newcastle fans, spent three seasons at the club before moving to Fulham in 2018.
His transfer from Anderlecht — Belgium’s most successful club — involved the agents Pini Zahavi and Fali Ramadani, the Derniere Heure newspaper reported at the time of the initial raids in April.
Prosecutors have not publicly named anyone connected with the probe, but a judicial source confirmed to AFP in April that the Mitrovic transfer was part of the investigation.
The earlier raids saw officers search the Anderlecht training centre as well as the Belgian FA headquarters and the offices of One Goal Management company which specialises in transfers.
The criminal probe adds to Anderlecht’s woes on the pitch, where the 34-time Belgian champions are languishing a lowly 13th in the league with just a single win in their first six games this season.
The Mag – 24 April 2019:
Aleksandar Mitrovic moved to Newcastle United in summer 2015 for around £14m and now that move is reported to be part of a investigation into alleged moneylaundering.
Wednesday morning has seen police carry out raids in Belgium at Anderlecht’s stadium and training ground, as well as at the Belgian FA and player management company ‘One Goal Management’.
The public prosecutor has told the Belgian media that this raid is completely separate from the large scale fraud investigation in Belgian football (Operation Zero), that started in October.
The investigation is claimed to centre around transfers that happened between 2013 and 2015, Newcastle having bought both Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba from Anderlect in summer 2015.
Large quantities of documents are said to have been seized in the raids at the various locations, as the police investigation looks to tie everything together.
Super agent Pini Zahavi was involved in the deal that brought Aleksandar Mitrovic to St James Park but he has denied any collaboration with the company One Goal Management in the Serbian striker’s deal.
Recent media reports have claimed that Pini Zahavi has been engaged by Mike Ashley to line up a potential replacement for Rafa Benitez.
Both Anderlecht and the Belgian FA have confirmed that they are cooperating fully with the investigation.
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