11th October 2018

Searches in six countries as part of Belgian football fraud investigation

Searches have been conducted by police in six countries as part of an investigation into financial fraud in Belgium’s Profvoetbal 1A, otherwise known as the Jupiler Pro League, Belgium’s Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office announced. Police conducted 44 searches across Belgium yesterday morning, as well as 13 searches in other countries including France, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. The operation involved 136 police officers based in Belgium and 36 based abroad.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s office said that the raids involved several clubs involved in the Jupiler Pro League, which is managed by the Belgian football association (KBVB). Documents and files have been seized, and further searches have been carried out at the residences of board members of football clubs, player agents, referees, a ‘former lawyer’, an accountant, a coach, journalists and other accomplices.

It is understood from Belgian media reports that the offices of nine Jupiler Pro League clubs were raided by police – RSC Anderlecht, Bruges, Standard Liege, KV Ostend, KV Kortrijk, Sporting Lokeren, KRC Genk, KAA Gent and KV Mechelen. Most released statements announcing that they are cooperating with investigations.

‘The Belgian football association is aware of the judicial inquiry, which was unveiled on Wednesday 10 October and involved different actors in Belgian football’, read a KBVB statement. ‘If the Belgian football association is asked to contribute to the investigation, it will do so willingly’. 

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office said that its investigation began in late 2017 as a result of a report drawn up by its Sports Fraud Cell, detailing suspect financial transactions in the Jupiler Pro League. The report detailed how some player agents hid commission from player transfers, player wages and other payments from the Belgian authorities and other people involved in the transactions. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office’s statement emphasised that agents operated independently of one another. 

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office outlines that in the investigation that followed, indications emerged that matches may have been ‘influenced’ during the 2017/18 season. ‘The judicial investigation concerns activities within the framework of a criminal organization – money laundering and private corruption’, reads its statement.

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