Agent Bayat among 19 charged in Belgium fraud probe

Mogi Bayat, portrayed in the media as Belgium's most powerful sports agent, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy.
Mogi Bayat, portrayed in the media as Belgium's most powerful sports agent, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BRUSSELS • Belgian prosecutors have charged 19 suspects and detained nine in a massive fraud and match-fixing investigation that has mired Belgium's elite league in scandal, they said yesterday.

The charges came after police carried out a massive operation in Belgium on Wednesday, arresting 29 people, 10 of whom were released without charge. Among the detained were at least three players' agents, a referee, and a top executive from a major football club.

Mogi Bayat, portrayed in the media as Belgium's most powerful sports agent, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy, a statement added.

He was detained pending his next hearing, as were fellow agents Dejan Veljkovic and Karim Mejjati, who were questioned this week as part of the operation targeting Belgian football's elite.

Referee Bart Vertenten was also charged with conspiracy and arrested, while former Anderlecht club lawyer Laurent Denis was charged for both conspiracy and money laundering.

On Thursday, another referee, Sebastien Delferiere, was charged but was immediately released on parole.

Vertenten and Delferiere were suspended on Thursday with immediate effect by the Belgian Football Federation.

 
 

The charges against referees are part of a probe into suspected match-fixing by Veljkovic in a failed effort to save former top-tier club Mechelen from relegation to the second division.

Club Bruges coach Ivan Leko, whose team are playing in the Champions League, was charged with money-laundering on Thursday and released.

Hearings before the judge were held throughout the night, with former Anderlecht boss Herman van Holsbeeck released without charge.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2018, with the headline 'Agent Bayat among 19 charged in Belgium fraud probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe