Ex Barcelona president ordered to appear in court over money laundering

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Madrid, July 27 (IANS) A Spanish judge on Friday directed the ex-president of football club Barcelona Sandro Rossell to appear in court over the alleged laundering of money embezzled from Brazil’s football federation and fixed the bail amount at 78.6 million euros ($91 million).

Rossell’s wife Marta Pineda and four other persons were also ordered to appear in court, all over the alleged laundering of money embezzled from Brazil’s soccer federation. reports Efe.

Rosell was asked to post the bail surety money within 24 hours, a court statement said.

On Wednesday, the national court’s prosecutors had requested a prison sentence of 11 years and a fine of 59 million euros ($68 million) for Rosell, 10 years and 55 million euros for Besolí and seven years and 50 million euros ($58 millon) for Pineda.

In the indictment, they accused the six defendants of “forming a stable structure led by Rosell, which was reinforced through links of friendship and kinship, dedicated to large-scale money laundering since at least the year 2006.”

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Judge Lamela ruled to keep Rosell in pretrial detention, which he has been in since he entered prison in May 2017, although she recently approved his petition to be moved to a penitentiary facility in Catalonia so as to be closer to his family.

According to Lamela’s findings during the investigative phase, Rosell’s organisation, called Ailanto, allegedly concealed amounts of money that had been unlawfully siphoned off by Ricardo Terra Teixeira, the former president of the CBF.

These operations were linked to the sale of broadcasting rights of 24 games of the Brazilian national football team and a sponsorship contract also signed by the CBF with the Nike sports brand.

In 2012, a Swiss prosecutor’s report said that Teixeira, along with his father-in-law, had accepted more than $41 million in bribes while he was a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.

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Lamela said there was proof that Teixeira had signed contracts using a complex series of companies, including some based in the Cayman Islands belonging to Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Saleh Kamel, in a bid to conceal siphoned-off funds.

The evidence pointed to Rosell being a beneficiary of illicit payments, and that both he and his wife received a total of 6.58 million euros ($7.7 million) from November 2010- January 2011 in five separate bank transfers.

Lamela said that Rosell’s explanations had not coincided with the facts uncovered by the investigation.

“Hence, as has been detailed, Rosell between 2007 and 2011 had performed financial operations that tended to obscure the true origin and ownership of funds summing up to 14,973,328 euros,” Lamela’s findings said.

During the investigation, Lamela also found evidence in a wiretapped phone call that suggested Rosell might have been involved in illegally buying a liver for a transplant for former Barça defender Eric Abidal.

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She forwarded the case to a local Barcelona court, which dismissed it at the start of this year, although regional prosecutors have announced they were studying whether to reopen the case.

On July 4, the official body that oversees organ transplants in Spain acknowledged it had opened an investigation into whether the liver had been unlawfully obtained.

“According to the information at our disposal, the donation and transplant of Eric Abidal took place in accordance to current legislation and clinical practices,” the National Transplant Organization said at the time.

Abidal, 38, who currently works as Barcelona’s technical secretary, said the liver had been donated by his cousin Gerard, while the club roundly denied any wrongdoing.

–IANS

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