Bloomberg News

Fake Sheikh May Have Fooled Spanish Soccer Team, Police Say

June 27, 2012

The owner of Getafe, a first- division Spanish soccer club, may have been fooled into a business deal with a gang who dressed up a Brazilian waiter to look like an Arab sheikh, Spanish police said.

The gang promised funds for Getafe’s Angel Torres and other Spanish business owners in return for fees of as much as 20,000 euros ($25,000), a spokeswoman for the Barcelona-based police force Mossos d’Esquadra said by telephone. She didn’t have details of how much, if anything, Torres paid in fees.

Seven members of the gang were arrested, according to a statement by the Barcelona police. A judge in Sabadell, near Barcelona, will decide whether there is enough evidence to charge them, the spokeswoman said.

On its website, police posted a picture of a white robe and red-and-white headdress and expensive-looking watches that they seized in the operation. The gang aimed to give an image of “solvency and confidence” to the victims, the police said.

Torres, 60, was on vacation today and the club has no comment about the police investigation, Getafe spokesman Luz Monzon said by telephone. Madrid-based Getafe finished 11th in the 20-team La Liga last season.

At a ceremony at a hotel in Dubai in April last year, Torres said he agreed to sell Getafe to Royal Emirates Group of Companies, led by Sheikh Butti Bin Suhail Al Maktoum. On April 20 this year, Torres said he’d had no recent contact from the group and the terms of the deal would expire if it didn’t meet a payment deadline in May. Royal Emirates said today it still expects the deal to go ahead.

‘Deadlock’

Kaiser Rafiq, managing director of Royal Emirates, said by telephone the alleged fake-sheikh scam has “nothing to do” with the group.

“I don’t know why they’ve put our pictures in the newspaper” relating to the police investigation, Rafiq said, referring to reports in Spain. He said he was trying to contact Spanish authorities.

On its website, Royal Emirates describes itself as “an emerging leading group with diverse business interests in the local and international markets.”

Rafiq said while there was a “deadlock” with Torres over the accord to buy the club, he expects it to go ahead. The impasse is over issues including securing a guarantee of ownership, Rafiq said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net


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