Uzbek-born Russian oligarch Usmanov led FIE from 2008 until March last year, when he resigned after being sanctioned by the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Greek official Emmanuel Katsiadakis continues to serve as interim president of the FIE, which lifted the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes in March ahead of a relaxation of International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendations, in a move that has drawn criticism in sport and led to the cancellation of several events in Europe.
German tabloid Blid reported that investigators from the Federal Criminal Police Office, in collaboration with the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, searched Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena stadium and Säbener Straße headquarters in search of evidence as part of an investigation into the alleged money laundering by Usmanov between 2017 and 2022.
Bayern Munich, whose men’s team is a 32-time national champion and a six-time European champion, is not the subject of an investigation.
According to Blid, Usmanov had ties to Bayern Munich’s honorary president and 1974 FIFA World Cup winner with West Germany, Uli Hoeneß. Both would have visited the resort town of Tegernsee until the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
Homes linked to Usmanov and four other suspects, including in Tegernsee, were raided by German police last year as part of an investigation into alleged tax evasion and sanctions violations, and a yacht was seized.
Usmanov has strongly denied any wrongdoing, and his press service said the allegations were “baseless and defamatory”.
His press service claimed that the searches at Bayern Munich represented political persecution.
“The political instrumentalization of investigative bodies in Germany conflicts with this country’s self-perception as a rule of law,” it said in a statement, as reported by Russia’s official state news agency TASS.
“Usmanov has never violated the laws of Germany, the origin of his funds is absolutely transparent, and his persecution in Germany is obviously political.
“What really connects Alisher Usmanov to the Bayern football club is his love for football and respect for this great club, which the English club Arsenal met several times at the Allianz Arena, of which Usmanov was a shareholder for happy birthday
“It wouldn’t hurt to also remember that the businessman visited [Bayern] as a guest, as the head of a large international sports organization.
“He will gladly visit this stadium again as a fan when the unfair restrictions against him are lifted.”
Usmanov was a shareholder of English football club Arsenal from 2007 to 2018.
He had strong commercial links with another English club, Everton, taken over by long-time business associate Farhad Moshiri in 2016, until the start of the Ukraine war, although he was never a shareholder.
Usmanov also had ties to the Olympic movement through fencing, a sport in which IOC President Thomas Bach won an Olympic gold medal with West Germany as an athlete.
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