Brussels - Police investigating suspected fraud linked to the transfer of
Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to Newcastle United have raided
properties in Belgium, Monaco and London, arresting two people including
an agent, officials said Wednesday.
The probe, which earlier this year saw the Belgian FA headquarters
searched, is looking into suspected money-laundering related to
transfers including Mitrovic's €18.5 million move
from Anderlecht to St James' Park in 2015.
Under the direction of a Belgian anti-corruption judge, police and
tax officials swooped on Tuesday and Wednesday, detaining an agent in
Monaco and his assistant in the Belgian city of Liege.
"The facts involve notably money-laundering operations and private
corruption in the context of football player transfers," the
prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The inquiry is separate from Belgium's so-called "footballgate"
scandal, which has resulted in 20 suspects being charged since October
2018, including agents, referees and club officials, in a vast
investigation into fraud and match-fixing.
Mitrovic, whose committed, physical style of play won him something
of a cult following among Newcastle fans, spent three seasons at the
club before moving to Fulham in 2018.
His transfer from Anderlecht - Belgium's most successful club -
involved the agents Pini Zahavi and Fali Ramadani, the Derniere Heure
newspaper reported at the time of the initial raids in April.
Prosecutors have not publicly named anyone connected with the probe,
but a judicial source confirmed to AFP in April that the Mitrovic
transfer was part of the investigation.
The earlier raids saw officers search the Anderlecht training centre
as well as the Belgian FA headquarters and the offices of One Goal
Management company which specialises in transfers.
The criminal probe adds to Anderlecht's woes on the pitch, where the
34-time Belgian champions are languishing a lowly 13th in the league
with just a single win in their first six games this season.