Paris - Three people were
arrested following a series of raids in Belgium that have intensified
the spotlight on Israeli 'super-agent' Pini Zahavi amid reports of an
illegally-held role at the Mouscron club.
Zahavi, who played a key
role in Neymar's record €222-million move from Barcelona to Paris
Saint-Germain in 2017, was not among those questioned by police on
But the 75-year-old Israeli is suspected of using "fraud,
forgery" and "foreign companies" to obscure the extent of his role with
Mouscron, who in turn are suspected of filing "false documents" via
offshore companies in a bid to maintain their status in Belgium's top
"Searches were carried out at the offices of Mouscron
football club, at the homes of the club's management and at the
headquarters of two sports associations," a statement by federal
prosecutors said Wednesday.
A source close to the case said Zahavi was not questioned.
following a first investigation in April into suspicions of "fraud and
forgery" at the club, federal prosecutors claimed "foreign companies
helped a player's agent, P.Z., to mask his control of" Mouscron. The
initials PZ refer to Pini Zahavi.
It is illegal for players'
agents to own football clubs in Belgium and police suspect Mouscron of
filing false documents with sporting authorities to obtain the licence
required to compete in the top flight.
Prosecutors confirmed the
investigation aims to "check if these alleged dealings allowed Mouscron
to remain illegally in the first division thanks to a management
structure created through offshore companies".
A second part of
the investigation is focusing on "suspected money laundering".
Prosecutors suspect Mouscron of "being maintained through a
multi-million euro financial deal through offshore companies".
media reports claim Zahavi took over Mouscron in 2015 thanks to a
Malta-based financial fund, before selling the club a year later to a
company run by his nephew.
Mouscron have been owned since early
2018 by Thai businessman Pairoj Piempongsant, although a recent report
cited the Football Leaks website when it claimed Zahavi was still "a
presence" at the club.
The current investigations are separate to other probes in Belgium centring on match-fixing and transfer market corruption.
made his name as an agent when he orchestrated Rio Ferdinand's
then-record £18 million move from West Ham to Leeds United in 2000 and then his
£30 million transfer from Leeds to Manchester United.
The agent also
played a role in Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea in 2003 and was
involved in many of the transfer deals that soon followed.