According to reports across Europe, including by major Belgian media outlet HLN, 30 Belgian police raided the Anderlecht training center in Neerpede as part of a money laundering investigation centering on agents and their dealings with clubs.
In addition, other locations including the Anderlecht stadium, the residence of a former lawyer for the club, One Goal Management financial firm in Schaerbeek, and the KBVB national team office in Laeken were also reportedly raided.
The report states that one of the transfers being investigated is the purchase by Newcastle United of then-Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. He was sold for a reported $17 million and signed a five-year contract at the time, before eventually moving to Fulham.
Local media outlet VRT reports that the investigation is centered around the previous Anderlecht ownership which sold the club in 2017, also raiding an agent Mogi Bayat’s office in the Belgian capital alongside the club visit.
A federal prosecution spokesperson confirmed the raid, and while they did not provide details, the spokesperson confirmed the raid is not related to the “Footballgate” match-fixing scandal which saw top-flight referees and executives arrested. “We had some questions for the agents who took care of the transfers,” the spokesperson said. “It is a question of money laundering.”
The raid is another distraction for Anderlecht amid a trying time that has seen the club spiral downwards. Finishing third in the Jupiler Pro League regular season table, the club was docked points for fan unrest that forced the postponement of a match against rival Standard Liege. The 2017 champions seemed to have rebounded at the end of the regular season, but now sit fifth out of the six-team playoff table with four losses and a draw at the midway point of the playoffs, in serious danger of missing a European place for the first time in 55 years. First-year executives Marc Coucke (pictured) and Michael Verschueren have taken much of the blame, and now they may have to deal with cleaning up the mess of a previous regime.
This is not the first time in recent memory that the Anderlecht office was raided. Back in October, their office was searched as part of “Operation Clean Hands” which was another investigation into dirty agents. Bayat was one of many detained as part of that investigation.