Of the 28 people who were questioned yesterday in the framework of the investigation into tax fraud and match fixing in Belgian football, 22 are led by the investigating judge. The Belgian federal prosecutor has announced this in a press conference.
Which people are being led, did not reveal the parquet. Numerous leaders from Belgian football had to report to the police station. For example, among others Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko and the former director of Anderlecht Herman Van Holsbeecken.
Furthermore, the public prosecutor has concrete suspicions for match fixing in at least two matches in the highest Belgian league: Antwerp FC – Eupen (3 March 2018) and KV Mechelen – Waasland – Beveren. The purpose of the match fixing was to prevent KV Mechelen from relegating.
Luxury watches, cash and jewelry
The investigation into corruption in Belgian football has been running since the end of 2017.
Yesterday the detective work came to light with a gigantic operation. 184 agents carried out 44 house searches across the country. For example, with directors, players brokers, referees and also with jewelers. In addition, the clubs Anderlecht, Club Brugge, RC Genk, AA Gent, Standard Liège, KV Kortrijk, Lokeren, KV Mechelen and KV Oostende were visited by researchers.
During the house searches, jewelery, cash and expensive watches were seized. Only the watches – of which mostly empty packaging was found – already had a total value of 8 million euros, according to the public prosecutor. At the same time raids occurred at 13 addresses in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. Bank accounts with a total value of 3.6 million euros were seized.
The research mainly focuses on the players' agents Mogi Bayat, who is considered the most powerful player agent in Belgium, and Dejan Veljkovic. Both brokers have been arrested for questioning.
According to the public prosecutor's office, they would have tampered with player contracts and set up constructions, so that they would profit as much as possible without having to donate extra commissions to players, clubs or the government. They did so with the help of corrupt lawyers, relatives and accounts abroad. Bayat, among other things, gave away expensive watches during his activities.
The two arbitrators Bart Vertenten and Sébastien Delferière are also suspects in the investigation. Veljkovic would have approached the last match of the regular league – referee Vertenten and four board members of Waasland – Beveren around the match KV Mechelen – Waasland – Beveren to influence the outcome of the match. Two sports journalists were also called in. They would have given Vertenten a high rating in their newspaper. Mechelen won the game 2-0, but still relegated.
Operation Tidy Hands
The operation, which has been given the name 'Clean Hands' by the authorities, can have far-reaching consequences for Belgian football. Football Association KBVB yesterday announced that it had "taken note" of the research: "This affects our sport in several areas, and if requested, we will of course contribute to the research, naturally with all possible transparency."
Although there are no indications that Dutch football has been affected by corruption, the Public Prosecutor said yesterday with interest to look at what is happening in Belgium. "The world of brokers is a very closed world where we have difficulty getting our fingers behind, and at the moment we have no signals that the main characters in the scandal in Belgium have also acted in the Netherlands."