Money-laundering scheme involved Portuguese soccer club

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Police say Russian businessman Alexander Tolstikov, right, has been detained on suspicion of tax fraud, money laundering and other charges.

The money-laundering operation was so complex that investigators code-named it “Matryoshkas,” after the Russian dolls that nest one inside the other inside the next.

European investigators say it involved the Russian mafia, criminal cells, off-shore shell companies and even a third-tier Portuguese soccer team.

And it culminated in the detention of Alexander Tolstikov, a Russian businessman and the owner of the third-tier team, Uniao de Leiria, a Portuguese official told CNN.

Tolstikov was detained on suspicion of tax fraud, criminal association, money laundering, corruption and forgery of documents, according to Antonio Sintra, head of the Leiria Department of Criminal Investigation of the Portuguese Police.

Sintra said one of the club’s administrators and its financial director were also detained. The three suspects are expected to be arraigned in court within the next 48 hours.

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