Friday, 13 July 2007

Arrest That Man!

A Brazilian judge yesterday ordered the arrest of Kia Joorabchian, the Iranian-born businessman who acts as the agent to West Ham's Carlos Tevez, after a lengthy investigation into accusations of money laundering in Brazil. The activities of Joorabchian and MSI first came under scrutiny in a 2005 report compiled by the Sao Paulo organised crime squad and the state public prosecutor. The Guardian state that Joorabchian is now formally accused of participating in a money-laundering racket involving the Brazilian club, Corinthians. MSI, a subsidiary of an offshore investment company, has been under investigation in Brazil since it took over the club in December 2004. Officials from the Brazilian intelligence agency are also known to have looked into the company's background but until now no concrete action has been taken.

"The [MSI] transactions are carried out with the use of numerous offshore accounts which have the single and well-known intention of distancing the investor and the illicit origin of the resources from their final destination, in this case the purchase and sale of [football] players," the federal attorneys Silvio Luis Martins de Oliveira and Rodrigo de Grandis were reported as saying by the Brazilian legal website consultor Juridico. Joorabchian has maintained his innocence throughout but yesterday the Sao Paulo-based judge Fausto Martin de Sanctis ordered his arrest alongside those of Corinthians president Alberto Dualib, Nojan Bedroud and the Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, alleged to be the financial backer of MSI. None of the four men was in Brazil yesterday. Instead Brazilian authorities forwarded the warrants to Interpol while the bank accounts of MSI in Brazil were also blocked. Unconfirmed reports suggest Joorabchian may now be hiding in a cupboard in the Daily Mail central office.

Until he turned his attentions to the UK after Tévez’s move from Corinthians to West Ham last summer, Joorabchian was the public face of MSI in Brazil. In 2004 the company he founded signed a ten-year partnership agreement with Corinthians, wiping out debts of about £11.5 million and immediately investing heavily in players. Among those bought with MSI money were Tévez and Javier Mascherano, who helped Corinthians to the 2005 Brazilian championship, but only after the club was allowed to replay several games in the wake of a match-fixing scandal. The Times state that while Corinthians continued to enjoy success on the field, the Brazilian authorities began looking into why none of the money involved in the purchase of players appeared to pass through the country. The subsequent failure of MSI or Corinthians to explain the origin of the money – or how they intended to turn a profit – ultimately led them to launch an investigation amid suspicions of money-laundering.

Whether the allegations impact on Tévez’s impending move to Old Trafford remains to be seen. Sir Alex Ferguson made a very public pronouncement a few days ago that his club would not be party to anything even remotely "dodgy" and that the Tevez transfer would require "complete and total transparency". The Guardian claim that if the United manager did now have any concerns about the allegations facing Joorabchian, he will not have had far to go to speak to him. The pair were at Wembley Stadium for a Labour fundraiser dinner hosted by Gordon Brown last night when Judge Fausto Martin de Sanctis ordered the shock action. Joorabchian declined to comment on the charges.


mustard said...

Sounds like trouble for MSI

How did West Ham get themselves entangled with this web?
I can see how you can sympathise with Sheffield Utd.

Fab C said...

I don't know about the European football clubs, but the brazilian ones are all about money laudering. So the "news" do not surprise me not even a bit.

Tin man said...

Hopefully South American players will learn from this fiasco and stop signing agreements with dodgy businessmen instead of a proper football club

snowball said...

Players probably don't know any better and can't be blamed for finding they are dealing with dodgy businessmen.

However football clubs are run by experienced men of the world who know exactly with whom they are dealing. They should suffer the consequences if their deals turn out to be tainted.

Si said...

Would the arbitration panel please say why they would have deducted points from West Ham, in the original judgement? What exactly did West Ham do wrong, bearing in mind all transfers and loan agreements are carried out under the watchful eyes of the Football League and Fottball Association? It seems to most West Ham supporters that this is purely emotional sentimentality from the panel towards clubs not worthy of staying in the Premiership by their performance, but try to pin the blame on i,s not dotted and T,s not being crossed. Instead of deducting points, they should make their rules clearer for future transactions.

Joesmoe said...

Tin man

In an ideal world what you said above would be perfect. However, if you have seen the struggles and hardship that hundreds of gifted football players in South America have to face, you won't be saying that. Yes. They need to be careful but sometimes, this may be their only way out.

How ever, it is clear that there are lessons to be learned from this case.

I can't imagine West Ham going over there to try and sign some potentially great players.


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