A police operation was carried out on Wednesday as part of an investigation into suspicions of fraud in the Belgian football league.
Two hundred and twenty policemen were mobilised in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, and “a large number of people” were arrested, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced.
Earlier, a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the arrest of a well-known gambling agent, Mogi Bayat, confirming reports by several media outlets.
According to a source close to the investigation, Ivan Leko, the coach of FC Brugge – who are competing in this season’s Champions League – was among those arrested, as was the former general manager of Anderlecht, Herman Van Holsbeeck.
The investigation concerns fraud on commissions related to transfers of players, but also on matches rigged in Jupiler Pro League, the first Belgian division. “The judicial investigation covers activities carried out within the framework of a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption,” said the federal prosecutor’s office.
The investigation began in late 2017 following a report by the Federal Police’s Sports Fraud Unit. It revealed “indications of suspicious financial transactions” in the Belgian league, concerning transfer commissions but also salaries paid to players and coaches.
The headquarters of several Jupiler Pro League clubs (Club Brugge, Standard Liege, Anderlecht and Genk) were among the sites raided.
Ten of the sixteen teams in the Belgian league are involved, according to Belgian TV channel RTBF.
Hermann Wynants, the Westerlo club’s general manager, currently playing in division 1B, said on Wednesday that he had filed a complaint in 2017 against the federal prosecutor’s office in Brussels, against Mogi Bayat, for fraud following match between the Kortrijk and Mouscron, which the club thought was rigged.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws , the players’ agent worked with several players from Kortrijk and Mouscron.
Police raids also targeted the homes of “club officials, player agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accounting office, a coach, journalists and some possible accomplices,” according to the prosecutor.