Chechen owner of Swiss club faces forgery probes
The Chechen owner of Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax, Bulat Chagaev, faces two criminal inquiries into alleged forgery of an American bank document, Swiss media reported on Tuesday.
Prosecutors in Geneva and Neuchatel suspect Chagaev of submitting a fraudulent Bank of America letter to a bankruptcy hearing last week which purported to prove he had $35 million in a New York account.
Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa was quoted by Swiss broadcaster TSR confirming that documents have been seized at the city office of Chagaev's trading company.
Bertossa was reported saying that the probe also concerns possible money-laundering offenses.
Neuchatel prosecutor Pierre Aubert said the two cantons (states) will decide in the next month which had jurisdiction in the case.
The bankruptcy hearing in Neuchatel was forced by a creditor who claims he is owed 400,000 Swiss francs ($446,000) from the offseason sale of defender Freddy Mveng to league rival Young Boys.
A judge declined to put Xamax into financial administration after Chagaev provided a letter attesting he had money to keep the club in business.
Geneva daily Le Matin and TSR claimed to have copies of the alleged Bank of America letter, which they said had too many errors to be authentic.
The published documents contained poor English grammar, the September date and $35 million figure written in European style rather than American, and an address in West 33rd Street, New York, which had ceased to be an office of the bank.
Xamax declined to address the allegations but suggested the newspaper and broadcaster had a hidden agenda to discredit the club.
Chagaev has presided over a turbulent period since buying the club in May.
He has fired four team coaches, several sporting directors and alienated fans and sponsors, while players threatened strike action after wage payments were late.