Italy Finance Police File Report on Berlusconi Soccer Club Sale
(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s financial police have filed reports about possible suspicious activity regarding the sale of the AC Milan soccer club by Silvio Berlusconi’s investment company to a Chinese businessman last year, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The filings by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza were sent to the Milan prosecutor’s office in December, said one of the people, who couldn’t be identified because the reports haven’t been made public. They didn’t elaborate on the information in the documents, which are the result of routine Bank of Italy and financial police reviews of cross-border transactions. The prosecutor’s office then determines whether a formal investigation should be opened.
Milan Chief Prosecutor Francesco Greco said that “there are no penal procedures under way on the sale of AC Milan,” news agency Ansa reported Jan. 13.
A Guardia di Finanza spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted Monday by Bloomberg News. A representative for the Berlusconi family investment company, Fininvest SpA, had no comment on the issue Monday.
On Saturday, Italian daily La Stampa said prosecutors are looking into whether the club used the sale to hide illicit cash flows. The team was sold to a group of Chinese investors including Haixia Capital and Yonghong Li for 740 million euros ($907 million), including about 220 million euros of debt, Fininvest said at the time.
Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, also denied the probe reports in La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX on Jan. 13, citing them as groundless and defamatory. “The falsification made today by two newspapers -- La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX -- leaves us indignant and astonished for its severity," Fininvest Chairman Marina Berlusconi said in a separate statement Saturday. During the negotiations for the sale of AC Milan, Fininvest behaved with the “utmost transparency and correctness,” Berlusconi said.
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