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Are Arab Football Clubs Perfect for Money Laundering?

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Are Arab Football Clubs Perfect for Money Laundering?

Page 1 of 3
Are Arab Football Clubs Perfect For Money Laundering?

By: Hany abou-El-Fotouh

Criminals are indeed using football for money laundering and tax evasion. They increasingly use huge amounts of money transfers and frequently tend to use complex accounting to make any attempt to trace origin of the money very difficult, if not impossible.

Money laundering is a process that takes illicit or “dirty” money generated from illegal activities and puts it through a cycle of transactions so that it comes out at the end as apparently legal or “clean.” In general, the money is generated from a range of criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, murder for hire, theft, robbery, embezzlement and fraud. The process conceals the true source, ownership or use of funds.

A recent report issued by the OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) revealed that football clubs are seen by criminals as an attractive money-laundering opportunity and a perfect vehicle to move illegal funds cross border. The report also shed light on human trafficking, corruption, drug trafficking and tax evasion. It highlighted more than 20 cases of money laundering after conducting a questionnaire in 25 countries.

In one case the authorities spotted an attempt to launder money through the purchase of a famous Italian football club using funds supplied by a criminal gang operating in central Italy.

Helped by globalization and lucrative television rights, the amount of money in football soared turning clubs into huge business enterprises. For example, the enormous sums paid for top players reached unexpected levels when Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo signed a contract for $131.5 million to transfer to Real Madrid.

What makes criminals find football clubs an attractive mean to launder money could be attributed to the weak management of the clubs. Many clubs are run by armatures and can easily be acquired by dubious investors. Big money could move unspotted in and out and...