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AC Milan Under Investigation For Money Laundering

According to reports in Italy, Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether the deal to sell AC Milan to Chinese investors last year was inflated for money-laundering purposes.

Milan prosecutors reportedly want to know if the €740 million paid to Silvio Berlusconi to buy out the seven-time European champions was overvalued in a deliberate move to bring large sums of money into Italy from abroad, the newspaper said.

Italian prosecutors have denied that they have opened an investigation into the sale of Milan saying:

“As it stands no criminal proceedings have been opened regarding the sale of AC Milan,” said Francesco Greco, the chief prosecutor of the city of Milan.

“Any information regarding an investigation of Silvio Berlusconi is totally false.”

However, La Stampa have refused to retract their story writing:

“La Stampa stresses that it carried out the correct checks regarding the existence of the investigation, of which it was made aware by two different sources, and it confirms what was written,” the newspaper wrote in a rebuttal to Greco’s denials.

After more than 30 years in the hands of Berlusconi, a period which saw the club win 29 trophies including five European Cups, Milan were sold on April 13 last year to a group of Chinese investors led by Li Yonghong.

The consortium bought 99.93% of the club’s shares and also bought out its debt, which stood at €220 million on June 30, 2016.

But the number of investors has progressively diminished in the face of difficulties in getting the funds out of China, where tougher legislation on the movement of money abroad was recently introduced.

Li was forced to set up his company in Luxembourg and had to take high interest loans from the US investment fund Elliott in order to push the deal through.

Elliott agreed to lend more than €300 million to the Milan investment group, but at interest rates of up to 11% and with full repayment within 18 months.

Milan were extremely active in the summer transfer window, spending €230m in the summer, in an attempt to re-establish themselves as a major force in European football. That level of spending caught the attention of UEFA and Milan will be under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play restrictions next season.

But those restrictions could be moot as the Rossoneri have struggled all season and are in 11th place in Serie A, 12 points out of a Champions League spot, Making it extremely unlikely that Milan will be in Europe next season.