Romanian football great Popescu jailed for fraud
Madrid: Former Romania football great and Barcelona captain Gheorghe Popescu was jailed for over three years on Tuesday for his part in a corruption scandal that shook Romanian football.
The 45-year-old -- capped 115 times and a member of the side that reached the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals -- was one of several high profile football figures to receive what are the heaviest sentences handed down in the country for corruption in football.
Popescu, who won the 1997 Cup Winners Cup with Barcelona and league titles in Romania, Turkey and the Netherlands and was Romanian player of the year five times, was taken from the court and imprisoned in a Bucharest prison according to police sources.
He and his fellow accused were found guilty of not declaring the whole amount of transfers of 12 players from their respective clubs to foreign teams from 1999-2005.
They were all acquitted in their first trial before being tried again where Popescu received a three year suspended sentence in November 2012 but the case was heard for a third time.
According to the anti-corruption prosecutors (DNA), the undeclared parts of the transfer fees were paid into personal bank accounts in the Virgin Islands and in the Netherlands at a cost of 1.5 million dollars (1.2 million euros) to the state, 10million dollars (7.86 million euros) to the four clubs involved and 600,000 dollars (470,000 euros) to the Romanian Football Federation (FRF).
While Popescu was sentenced to three years, one month and 10 days, the former president of Dinamo Bucharest Cristian Borcea received a jail term of six years and four months, and the ex-president of Rapid Bucharest George Copos got three years and eight months.
Two players agents, brothers Ioan and Victor Becali were sentenced to six years and four months and four years and eight months respectively.
Among the transfers involved in the scandal were those of international trio Nicolae Mitea, transferred from Dinamo Bucharest to Dutch giants Ajax, Cosmin Contra from Dinamo to Spanish outfit Alaves and Ionel Ganea from Gloria Bistrita to Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart.