Israel’s soccer association has conducted an investigation into the financial situation of an Emirati royal who recently bought half of one of the country’s most famous clubs, Beitar Jerusalem, and fears there is a “significant gap” between his declared capital and what he owns in reality, business news website The Marker reported Sunday.
Beitar’s owner Moshe Hogeg is facing backlash from extreme factions of the club’s notoriously anti-Arab fanbase after he sold a 50 percent stake in the club to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. Al Nahyan has pledged to pump $90 million into the team in the coming decade.
The investigation, commissioned by the Israel Football Association and conducted by the Megiddo financial investigations company, was said (Hebrew link) to conclude that Al Nahyan owns dozens of inactive firms and is allegedly connected with businessmen involved in fraud and money laundering.
The main reported finding is that out of Al Nahyan’s stated wealth of $1.6 billion, $1.5 billion is non-tradable bonds belonging to the Venezuelan government, which economists estimate to be useless due to the South American country’s grave economic crisis.
Additionally, other assets declared by the businessman have allegedly turned out to be worth far less in reality.
Beitar and Hogeg are insisting that the deal is kosher. Al Nahyan and the Israel Football Association did not comment on the report.