September 21 – Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch bankrolling English Premier League club Chelsea, faces accusations of holding secret investments in players not owned by his club.
The revelations come to light in a BBC Panorama programme as part of leaked documents known as the FinCEN files.
The BBC investigation claims it has established that the Russian billionaire was behind an offshore company called Leiston Holdings based in the British Virgin Islands that owned the economic rights of players until the practice of third-party ownership was banned by FIFA in 2015.
Abramovich apparently held a stake in a player bought by Liverpool from a Portuguese club, and in another player who appeared against Chelsea in the Champions League, identified as Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo who played for Sporting Lisbon.
Abramovich’s involvement in Leiston emerged as part of a leak of bank’s so-called ‘suspicious activity reports’ obtained by Panorama.
A spokesperson for Abramovich insisted there was no wrongdoing whatsoever.
“BBC Panorama have not presented us with any allegations of wrongdoing and confirmed that they do not suggest that Mr. Abramovich has acted in an unlawful way,” a statement said.
“In regard to transactions concerning Chelsea FC, the points presented to us by BBC Panorama regarding third party ownership relate to the period before FIFA changed their rules (2015). The fact that transactions may have been confidential, does not mean that they were unlawful or otherwise in breach of then applicable rules or regulations, and BBC Panorama have not presented us with any evidence suggesting otherwise.
“Further, Mr Abramovich’s financial matters are wholly compliant with international tax laws and regulations, this has been confirmed by leading financial experts including accountants and legal counsel who have confirmed that they are legal and appropriate. Any suggestion otherwise is false.”
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