Roman Abramovich held stake in player who played against Chelsea
A spokesperson for Abramovich has insisted no rules were broken
A BBC Panorama investigation has revealed Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich secretly held stakes in footballers not contracted to the Stamford Bridge club.
Leaked documents - known as the FinCEN Files - have been seen by the Panorama team as part of their investigation. The files reveal the Russian billionaire is behind an offshore company called Leiston Holdings, based in the British Virgin Islands and run by super-agent Pini Zahavi, a man with close links to Abramovich.
Leiston took stakes in footballers overseas via third-party ownership, before the practice was banned in 2015. The players included Andre Carrillo, a Peruvian who had twice played for Sporting Lisbon against Chelsea in the Champions League in 2014. Panorama report that Leiston owned 50 per cent of the economic rights of the winger while he was at Sporting.
As pointed out in The Times, Lesiton also owned 50 per cent of the economic rights of Lazar Markovic prior to his move from Benfica to Liverpool. When the Serbian completed his transfer to Anfield in 2014, a statement from Benfica confirmed that Liverpool had paid €12.5million for the 50 per cent share of the Markovic's economic rights. After this point, Leiston had no interest in the player.
Although a spokeswoman for Abramovich insists no rules or regulations had been broken, former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman has questioned whether it is right for a club owner to have interests in players who represent other clubs.
"I don't think it can possibly be proper for the owner of a football club to own players in other football clubs," he told Panorama. "That is precisely why third-party ownership is banned."
"It casts suspicion and a shadow right across football. On the documents I've seen I would've wanted, as chairman of the FA, to investigate them."
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, his investment quickly transforming the club into one of the strongest sides in European football.
This summer Chelsea have spent heavily in a bid to build on the fourth-place league finish the team had in their first season under Frank Lampard. Along with German internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, Chelsea have added Ben Chilwell from Leicester and Hakim Ziyech from Ajax. Veteran defender Thiago Silva also joined the club on a free from Paris Saint-Germain.