Portuguese police raid Russian football clubs

May 05, 2016 11:58
Portuguese police raid Russian football clubs

Portuguese police investigated several football clubs, after suspicions of money laundering with links to Russian crime, arose.

Lisbon’s Benfica and sporting club is also, one among the several clubs raided under "Operation Matryoshka Dolls", authorities said.

"The searches were carried out because of suspected practices of tax fraud, criminal association, money laundering, corruption and forgery of documents," the prosecutor's office said.

Formed into 22 teams, the detectives went to search the club offices and stadiums in Lisbon, Braga and Leiria, as well as private homes, companies and lawyer's offices across Portugal.

3rd tier side Uniao de Leiria, owned by Russian businessman Aleksandr Tolstikov, is believed to be at the centre of the investigation.

According to the police sources, Tolstikov, another Russian national and two Portuguese have been indicted.

"Other clubs are not under suspicion, but have been searched because they possess some documents that will help the investigation of existing evidence of capital transfers, presumably from Russia and related to criminal activities, for money-laundering in Portugal," source said.

As of now, no one, including Tolstikov, is available to comment at Uniao de Leiria.  

The police however maintained tight-lipped about the way, the scheme worked, but according to other sources, contracts involving Russian players were used to launder money.
 
In 2014, Jose Mourinho coached this bankrupt club, which was now bought by Tolstikov. In the last year, it had as many as 7 young Russian players, although just one in the main squad. At least one has been transferred to Benfica's 2nd team.

By Phani Ch

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