The headquarters of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and several high-profile local football clubs were raided by police on Wednesday, as part of an investigation into alleged money-laundering and tax evasion related to the transfer of footballers to Mexico.
The operation was carried out simultaneously on the orders of the Attorney General's Office for Economic Crime and Money Laundering (PROCELAC), which obtained a court order from Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado. At least eight sites were searched, with documentation taken away by investigators.
Premises owned by top-flight sides Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, Independiente, Racing Club and Unión de Santa Fe were searched. At least one agent and a businessman are also under investigation in the case, according to local press reports.
"The raid on our headquarters is the product of an investigation that involves the representative of player Maximiliano Meza. He was transferred to Independiente in 2016. Later, the side from Avellaneda sold him to Mexico. During this operation, the current one Board of Directors was not yet in charge of the club," said Gimnasia y Esgrima in a statement.
Agents from the Airport Security Police (PSA) searched Gimnasia’s headquarters looking for documentation "in an investigation into money-laundering and evasion in the transfer of players to Mexico," said a statement from the La Plata-based side.
Meza, a 28-year-old midfielder who has won 10 caps for the national side, plays for Monterrey in Mexico’s top flight. He moved there in January 2019.
Unión de Santa Fé also confirmed that a raid had been carried out at the club’s headquarters “in the framework of a case based in the town of San Isidro seeking accounting documentation from 2015 for a complaint made by PROCELAC before the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Nation."
The club said that the required documentation was already in the possession of prosecutors in Santa Fe Province, given that it was related to a previous search operation in September 2019 related to a “criminal complaint for fraud carried out by three partners from the institution.”
In a separate statement, AFA said that "personnel from the Airport Security Police (PSA) appeared at our headquarters on 1366 Viamonte Street ... seize copies of the transfer contracts for the athletes Maximiliano Meza, Federico Mancuello, Emanuel Gigliotti, Nicolás Sánchez, Jesús Méndez, Fernando Barrientos, Jonatan Maidana and Enrique Triverio."
"This Association provided all the necessary collaboration for the judicial order to be carried out, making all the required documentation available to the intervening officials," it added.