The Portuguese Police and the EU Police Service, Europol, stated that they have uncovered a cell of influential Russian mafia members which is likely laundering money through European football clubs.
Europol’s statement published on May 4th said that this group, by providing financial support to the clubs, has established control over them, and subsequently could launder money through player transfers.
Searches of several football clubs were conducted in Portugal as part of the investigation into the money laundering case and the possible participation of Russian criminals.
The Prosecutor's Office of Portugal reported on May 3rd that investigations were carried out across 22 clubs, including Lisbon clubs Benfica and Sporting. A source in the police force has told Reuters that the Uniao de Leiria club, whose owner is Russian businessman Alexander Tolstikov, is at the center of the investigation.