ECONOMY

Whistle blown on Romanian soccer transfer

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s fiscal authorities said yesterday they have begun to investigate an allegedly illegal transfer of a Romanian soccer player abroad. Earlier this month, the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) launched its own investigation into the 2003 transfer of Florin Bratu from Rapid Bucharest to Galatasaray of Turkey after local media said that $2.0 million of the $2.75 million fee was unaccounted for. «The National Fiscal Administration Agency (ANAF) will investigate Bratu’s case,» ANAF chief Sebastian Bodu told reporters. «We want to know if all the taxes were paid.» An FRF official said that the FRF investigation aims to find out «whether there is a system in Romanian football to produce so-called black money via international transfers.» «Bratu’s case might open Pandora’s box in Romanian soccer,» leading sports commentator Viorel Tudorache told Reuters. It is the first inquiry of its kind in Romania but the media has been awash with reports of a series of similar cases with around $30 million (25 million euros) evaporating after the transfer of more than 40 players abroad in the last 16 years. «The commissions and other hidden payments have often been bigger than the sums officially cashed in Romanian clubs’ accounts for the transfers,» the daily Romania Libera said recently.