The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that it wanted to refer to a court 56 people and a commercial company, suspected of fraud.
The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that it wanted to send to court 56 people and a commercial company, in a vast file of fraud which splashes the biggest football clubs of Belgium. This is a “provisional” indictment, which can still be challenged by the suspects’ lawyers, a spokesperson for the federal prosecution told AFP.
The trial of this affair known as “Operation Zero” or “Footballgate” should be held this year in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of the country. Agents, referees, players, managers of Pro League clubs (the Belgian first division): several dozen people had already been implicated in the fall 2018 when broke out the scandal.
The players’ agent Mogi Bayat suspected
Names were then added to the list of suspects, thanks in particular to the collaboration in the investigation of players’ agent Dejan Veljkovic, the “repentant” of the case, who negotiated a suspended prison sentence fixed end 2021. For more than three years, the investigation focused mainly on suspicions of fraud during player transfers, embezzlement during the payment of salaries, and commissions to players’ agents.
The offenses prosecuted are in particular “forgery in writing” and “money laundering”, it was pointed out to the prosecution. Some suspects will also have to answer for their involvement in at least two match-fixings. According to the Belgian media , the players’ agent Mogi Bayat and at least four coaches are concerned by the request for dismissal in correctional. Among the coaches is Ivan Leko, ex-coach of FC Bruges, who had been charged with money laundering from 2018.
57 persons invited to regularize their situation with the tax authorities
Bruges, Genk, Anderlecht, Charleroi, Standard de Liège, FC Mechelen, Lokeren… the names of ten of the most famous clubs in the championship are mentioned in this case that looks like an “earthquake” for Belgian football. According to Kris Luyckx, lawyer for Dejan Veljkovic, embezzlement was revealed during around fifty transfers.
In addition to the 57 suspects (including a company) targeted by the indictment, approximately 57 other people are suspected of having received money during undeclared transactions and were invited to regularize their situation with the tax authorities, further indicated the spokesperson for the federal prosecutor’s office.