Sports

Former Chelsea striker, Diego Costa at the centre’ of alleged betting scandal as Police seize £1.77 Million in cash during Investigation’

Diego Costa, a former Chelsea striker, has found himself in hot water after being named in the Brazilian press as the footballer at the center of a police investigation into an alleged betting scam.

The 32-year-old striker, who presently plays for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil, has been named in the national press as one of the people being examined by authorities in Sergipe, where he was born.

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The identity of people suspected of being involved in the alleged misconduct have yet to be confirmed by police. However, they have stated that one of the persons under investigation is a player.

On Thursday, detectives made their investigation public, stating that they were looking into the practice of alleged crimes such as money laundering and foreign currency fraud using the online betting site Esportenet.

Sergipe State Police said in a statement: ‘On Wednesday morning Sergipe State Police launched the second phase of an operation codenamed “Distraction” with the aim of obtaining evidence for an investigation into the alleged practices of exploitation of gambling, money laundering, foreign currency exchange and criminal association involving the ESPORTENET betting site, its owners, financial operators and financier.

‘In the first phase of the operation, which began on March 3 this year, documents and electronic equipment were seized that allowed the investigation to be deepened and the amount of R$13,129,217.00 – Brazilian real – (£1.77million) in cash was seized.

‘Based on the evidence collected, it was possible to identify other betting platforms used by the group and individual companies and legal entities for alleged money laundering and foreign exchange fraud

‘The participation of money changers that help the criminal organisation to allegedly commit foreign exchange fraud was verified, as well as the participation of a football player.

‘At this stage, the investigation is focused on the foreign exchange fraud, with specific focus on the money changers and the betting site’s financier.

‘Seven search and seizure warrants are being executed, two in Itabaiana in Sergipe, one in Lagarto in Sergipe, two in Simao Dias in Segipe, one in Salvador in the state of Bahia and one in Sao Paulo.

‘The warrants were issued by a judge sitting at Itabaaina’s Sixth Federal Court.

‘Warrants for the seizure of property belonging to those involved in the criminal scheme are also being executed.’ 

Atletico Mineiro said they would support Costa if he asked for help in a statement.

The statement, titled “Diego Costa Official Statement” and posted on the official club website, said: ‘The reports do not concern the club.

‘The allegations that have been put in the public domain weren’t previously known to the public or the club because they formed part of an investigation and they relate to a period which was prior to the athlete’s arrival here.

‘However Atletico Mineiro is trying to find out more and if the athlete requires it, we will offer him all the support that might be necessary.’

Diego Costa (full name Diego da Silva Costa) joined Chelsea from Atletico Madrid in a £32 million trade in 2014. During his tenure at Stamford Bridge, he won three trophies, including two Premier League titles, before returning to Atletico Madrid in 2018 after a falling out with then-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.

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