Caixin
Sep 23, 2016 07:42 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Forged Document Used in Soccer Team Purchase, Bank Says

Photo: Visual China
Photo: Visual China

(Beijing) — The Chinese group that bought Italian soccer team AC Milan for 740 million euros ($825 million) used a forged Bank of Dongguan document that promised financial support for the deal, the bank said today.

In August, a consortium led by little-known Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co. Ltd. bought 99.93 percent of AC Milan from Fininvest, a privately owned company controlled by former Italian Prime Minister and billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi.

Among the paperwork the buyer group sent to Fininvest was a letter from the Bank of Dongguan that declared that the bank was "willing to provide necessary help" if the consortium needed to raise funds for the acquisition. Caixin obtained a copy of the document with Bank of Dongguan's name and stamp dated April 24. However, Bank of Dongguan told Caixin on Friday that the letter was a fake.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg, citing unidentified sources, reported that the buyer group, "to prove their financial strength," provided financial statements, purportedly on Bank of Jiangsu stationery, detailing one of the member's corporate accounts. However, Bloomberg reported that the bank denied issuing any such document.

The consortium has paid a nonrefundable deposit of 100 million euros, Fininvest said earlier this month. If Fininvest decides to terminate the deal, the group might not be able to get a refund, an industry insider told Caixin.

Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing, which formed just three months before the acquisition, was backed by Haixia Capital, a development fund controlled by state-owned State Development & Investment Corp., and some Chinese "state-controlled entities," according to Fininvest.

AC Milan and Fininvest haven't publicly commented on the issue yet.

Contact reporter Chen Na (nachen@caixin.com); editor Ken Howe (kennethhowe@caixin.com)

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