Football: Belgian police accuse football agent Pini Zahavi of “fraud”, Football News & Top Stories
BRUSSELS (AFP) – Players’ agent Pini Zahavi has been indicted in Belgium in connection with an investigation into suspected fraud in the 2015 takeover of Belgian football club Mouscron.
The 78-year-old Israeli businessman was charged with “forgery and use of forgery”, “fraud” and “money laundering” by a Brussels judge, before being released, told AFP an source close to the file.
Contacted by AFP on Friday, the federal prosecutor’s office confirmed the accusation but refused to give details.
Zahavi was a middleman in the record-breaking deal that brought Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in 2017. He also negotiated the Chelsea buyout by Roman Abramovich in 2003 and represented stars such as Robert Lewandowski and Rio Ferdinand.
The Belgian investigation to find out whether the agent had illegally acquired Mouscron has been underway since April 2018.
Zahavi was questioned and then charged in recent weeks after responding to a summons, the source said, and released on condition that he appear at any future Belgian court hearing.
Belgian justice suspects Zahavi of having used shell companies to circumvent the ban on players’ agents from owning clubs.
“Foreign companies would have made it possible to camouflage the control of the Mouscron club by a players’ agent, the so-called PZ”, wrote the Belgian federal prosecutor at the end of 2018. The initials PZ refer to Pini Zahavi.
According to the Belgian press, Zahavi bought Mouscron via a Maltese fund, before selling the club a year later to a company run by his nephew, effectively retaining control.
In February 2019, Mouscron was placed under judicial administration and his bank account temporarily frozen, at the request of the federal prosecutor.
It was taken over in 2020 by Luxembourg businessman Gérard Lopez, former owner of Lille and Bordeaux in the French Ligue 1.
Zahavi, a former sports journalist, is registered as a players’ agent in England and lives in London and Tel Aviv.