Ex-Marseille president charged in transfer investigation

The former president of French giants Marseille has been charged with various offences as part of an investigation into murky transfer dealings involving the Ligue 1 side, judicial sources said Thursday.

Paris: The former president of French giants Marseille has been charged with various offences as part of an investigation into murky transfer dealings involving the Ligue 1 side, judicial sources said Thursday.

Jean-Claude Dassier, 74, a former journalist who was president of Marseille between 2009 and 2011, has been charged with misuse of company assets, being part of a criminal association and forgery, according to the source, after a hearing at a court in the southern French city on Wednesday.

The investigation related to the transfers of 14 players, including Andre-Pierre Gignac and Hatem Ben Arfa as well as Cesar Azpilicueta and Loic Remy, who both now play for Premier League champions Chelsea.

On Sunday, the newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Dassier faced a hearing after the investigation revealed that Marseille might have lost 55.3 million euros ($62.6m; £40.4m) in these transfers. Prosecutors suspect that "illicit payments" were made, according to the newspaper.

An investigation into "extortion, money laundering and criminal association" was first opened in July 2011, with investigators suspecting unwarranted payments of commissions were made following major transfers.

That investigation led to club offices being raided in January 2013 and current OM president Vincent Labrune being arrested and briefly held in custody in November 2014, along with Dassier and another former president, Pape Diouf. They were all later released without charge.

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