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SBD Global/June 26, 2013/International Football

Top Italian Football Clubs Raided By Police Investigating Tax Evasion, Money Laundering

Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti said he was "very calm" following Tuesday's seizure of club documents.
Italian financial police Tuesday "raided the offices" of more than 40 football clubs, including giants Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, "as part of a broad investigation into tax evasion and other alleged crimes involving player transfers," according to Gilles Castonguay of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The raids, ordered by the public prosecutor's office in Naples, come as the government "desperately looks for revenue to avoid further raising already high tax rates." In the raids, police seized documents including player contracts, but "they arrested no suspects." Police "conducted the raids on the offices of 41 clubs" -- 18 of them from Italy's top division Serie A and 11 from Serie B (WSJ, 6/25).

LONG LIST OF CHARGES: CNN reported the probe, involving more than 200 police officers, "is looking at more than 50 player transfers, in particular those arranged by two football agents" -- Argentine Alejandro Mazzoni and Italian Alessandro Moggi. Eight agents "are under investigation, while another four could potentially be drawn into the probe." The Italian Football Federation was not "immediately available for comment." Lega Calcio, the regulator of Italy's top two divisions, said, "At the moment the LNPA (Italian Football League) is not planning to release any official statement." The Naples police authorities "began the investigation last October, initially looking into Argentina international Ezequiel Lavezzi's Napoli contract." The 28-year-old moved to Paris St. Germain in a multi-million dollar deal last summer, though Italian authorities "have stressed that the players themselves are not under investigation" (CNN, 6/25). In London, Michael Day reported the warrants that magistrates handed to police "list conspiracy and money laundering, as well as international tax evasion and false invoicing." Investigators stressed that the investigation "was at an early stage" (INDEPENDENT, 6/25).

INTER BOSS 'CALM': FOOTBALL ITALIA wrote Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti "has refused to comment on revelations" that Italy's financial police raided the offices of football clubs. Moratti, however, has insisted that the San Siro side has "nothing to worry about." He said, "It was not a raid, but an acquisition of documents. I am very calm about it" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 6/25).
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