Ligue 1 club Angers spoke in a press conference this Wednesday to tell their side of the story after Tuesday’s police raid of their offices as part of an investigation into alleged embezzlement linked to transfers. The investigations of the French club were for suspicion of crimes related to “illegal exercise of the profession of player agent” and “organized money laundering”.
In the press conference, Communication Manager, Mohamed Sifaoui, and club lawyer, Maître Pierry Fumanal spoke about the investigation and assured that neither the President nor any current employee of the team was implicated in the wrongdoing.
Sifaoui explained, “It’s a major investigation, which concerns several dozen people. These are stories of transfers, players’ agents, real or self-proclaimed.“
It appears that there were two former people of interest who had past connections to the club who were the source of the investigation Tuesday. The Communication manager continued, “A number of people are said to have been guilty of financial misappropriation. Two people who passed through the club are being prosecuted, but presumed innocent.”
They explained it was discovered on the director’s computer elements of “clandestine activity” of which the club was unaware until Tuesday. That employee, he added, was fired in November for separate “gross misconduct“. The other person targeted is a player representative with no agent license, but with whom Angers was in contact for its recruitment. They continued that he did not fit into the organization and resigned for “personal reasons” in early December.
Up to this point, Angers representatives have stated that they have done nothing wrong and cooperated with the investigation. Sifaoui stated, “It was made clear that Angers SCO was in no way involved in this affair and we cooperated in full transparency. Angers SCO has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.”
The club lawyer, Pierry Fumanal, explained the accusations further stating, “It’s a problem of bogus agents and money laundering…The former legal director (Valentin Harribey) has been taken into custody. There are suspicions of wrongdoing, which means that he has been taken into custody, which is not the case for the president…It was during the first search in June that the investigators discovered elements in the computer of the legal director, which led him to be put on trial this time.”
Fumanal also explained, “The work of the investigators was to check whether the invoices which had been seized in June did not correspond to false services. They checked invoice after invoice, player after player…The real difficulty and one of the reasons for my coming to SCO are that the boundary is not very well defined between scouting and the profession of the agent. It attracts particular ‘clients,’ attracted by large sums, which can lead to complicated situations, with three agents the day before a transfer. On a daily basis, the clubs walk on minefields with certain agents.”
Maybe one of the more particular parts of the press conference was Sifaoui’s comments on the events that he claims set the investigation off in the first place, “This is an investigation that was launched following facts that date back to 2017. The Pogba affair was the trigger.”
In RMC, it was reported that Angers claimed, this is a “large-scale” preliminary investigation, launched following embezzlement, revealed by wiretapping carried out since March as part of the investigation into extortion denounced by Paul Pogba. Separate from the Pogba affair, it concerns around fifty people and affects several football clubs, assured the SCO.
Angers since their return to Ligue 1 in 2015 have been one of the “Cinderella” clubs of the league. Now, facing relegation, further legal battles, and financial difficulties, its future is unclear. So, even if Angers has no fault in this legal battle, there are many other battles to fight.
GFFN | Tony DesRois