Roman Abramovich facing third-party ownership questions over ‘secret stakes’ in players at rival clubs – including former Sporting Lisbon winger who played against Chelsea in the Champions League
Roman Abramovich is facing questions over his involvement in third-party ownership after a BBC investigation revealed the Chelsea owner previously held secret investments in players not owned by his club.
The Russian held the economic rights to the players through a company based in the British Virgin Islands and one of them – Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo – played against Chelsea in two Champions League ties in 2014.
Abramovich’s involvement in the banned practice of TPO through an offshore company called Leiston Holdings will place more scrutiny on the business dealings of a man who has invested almost £2billion since buying Chelsea in 2003.
Roman Abramovich is facing questions over his involvement in third-party ownership
The Russian held the economic rights to Andre Carrillo, who played against Chelsea in 2014
That includes a spending spree of £230million this summer. The Premier League outlawed third-party ownership in 2008 following West Ham’s loan signing of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, but it was not banned by FIFA until 2015, the year after Carrillo played for Sporting Lisbon in two Champions League group defeats by Chelsea.
Leiston owned stakes in two other Sporting players – Gael Etock, who played for the club between 2012 and 2013, and Valentin Viola, who was in the squad between 2012 and 2016. A spokeswoman for Abramovich said no rules were broken.
Abramovich’s involvement in Leiston has emerged after a leak of banks’ so-called ‘suspicious activity reports’ were obtained by BBC’s Panorama.
In December 2016, a Suspicious Activity Report was filed by a bank about Abramovich.
His involvement in Leiston emerged after a leak of banks’ so-called ‘suspicious activity reports’
It identified more than $1bn of ‘suspicious payments involving offshore shell companies’ – firms functioning only to manage the money put in them.
The SAR said many of the shell companies were ‘owned by Roman Abramovich… one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs with close ties to Moscow and Vladimir Putin’.
A spokesman for Mr Abramovich said: ‘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.
‘In regard to the claim that at some point a Suspicious Activity Report was filed relating to Mr Abramovich, we have no way of confirming whether this is accurate, as such reports are confidential, and the BBC have declined to present us with any documents.
‘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.’
Chelsea declined to comment.