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Sale of Anderlecht under investigation for fraud

Three former Anderlecht executives, a player agent and a British law firm have been charged in Belgium over suspected fraud in the 2017 sale of the club, a source confirmed to AFP on Thursday.

The accused include Herman Van Holsbeeck, the former general manager of Belgium’s most successful club, and Belgian agent Christophe Henrotay who were already implicated in 2019 in another investigation into the transfer of Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to English club Newcastle. 

The two-year investigation into the sale of the club to Belgian billionaire Marc Coucke stems from the inquiry into questionable transfers.

The latest charges include alleged “forgery”, “use of forgeries” and “swindling”, according to Belgian newspaper L’Echo and radio station RTBF. 

“The investigation is still ongoing,” said a spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, which is responsible for cases involving organised crime. 

Coucke, Anderlecht’s main shareholder, via his investment company Alychlo, filed a complaint in September 2019 after noticing anomalies during the purchase of the club in December 2017. 

In addition to Van Holsbeeck, Roger Vanden Stockt, the former president of the club (1996-2018) and Jo Van Biesbroeck, their former managing director, are suspected of irregularities. 

The business law firm Clifford Chance, established in London and acting as an intermediary in the sale, are also charged, confirmed the source. 

In a statement sent to AFP, Clifford Chance rejected any suspicion of fraud. 

“We strongly deny the allegations, and continue to cooperate fully with the authorities,” the firm said.

No trial has yet been set in the investigation on the arrival of Mitrovic from Partizan Belgrade in 2013 and his departure for Newcastle in 2015. 

Mitrovic now plays for English club Fulham. 

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