talian police said on Wednesday they had arrested the chairman of beleaguered soccer club Parma FC and 21 others on charges including embezzlement and money laundering.
Giampiero Manenti, whose club faces a bankruptcy hearing on Thursday, is accused of investing ‘illicit funds’, as part of a probe that has led to dozens of raids across the country.
The club was not immediately available for comment. A police source said the public accounts department of Italy’s Treasury was among the sites raided. The Treasury was not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutor Michele Prestipino Giarrita said the case related to a group of suspected information fraudsters and money launderers who had moved millions of euros from a Swiss bank using cloned credit cards.
“The suspicion is that the group ‘made available’ to Manenti a sum of around 4.5 million euros ($4.78 million) through a system which you could call banal but was certainly simple”, Prestipino told a news conference in Rome.
A new law passed last year that defined a crime of investing ill-gotten gains in other business concerns – known as ‘autoriciclaggio’ – has been used for the first time in this case, Prestipino said. Parma’s players have not been paid all season and have to do their own laundry and drive their own team bus. Manenti failed to fulfil a ‘promise to pay them’ by mid-February.
“This is turning into a farce.I want to understand the legal reasons (behind the arrests), whether Parma is involved or not,” club captain Alessandro Lucarelli was quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday.