Portuguese police searched Benfica and Sporting offices in corruption case

Portuguese police have raided the offices of football clubs Benfica, Sporting, and Santa Clara as part of a corruption and money laundering investigation linked to player transfers. The Guardian reports.

The police and tax office have conducted about 30 searches, according to a statement of the Portuguese general prosecutor’s office.

Football clubs have confirmed searches of their offices. In turn, Benfica expressed its desire to cooperate with prosecutors.

Sporting said in a statement that the investigation is linked to alleged irregularities from 2011 to 2014.

Prosecutors said they were investigating «a range of cases, all linked to professional football, which could include crimes of economic participation in business or undue receipt of advantage, active and passive corruption, qualified tax fraud and money laundering».

The investigation also focuses on the acquisition of sports and economic rights by players from national football clubs, as well as the granting of loans to one of these clubs and a sports company by a citizen of Singapore whose companies are based in the British Virgin Islands.

According to reports by Portuguese broadcaster TVI, prosecutors are focused on Luis Filipe Vieira, head of Benfica, and on the transfer of three Libyan players who signed for Santa Clara.

Vieira is already facing a corruption trial alongside 16 other people .In addition, he is suspected of tax fraud and match-fixing.

Varandas Fernandes, Benfica’s vice-president, noted that Vieira remains calm about the investigation and devotes all his time to the club.