MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. Law enforcement officers detained four men from West Africa in St. Petersburg who had stolen 800,000 euro from an Italian football club, Russian Interior Ministry Spokeswoman Irina Volk told TASS on Thursday.
"Four West Africans were arrested on suspicion of large-scale fraud, including a Russian citizen from the Republic of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and three citizens from the Federal Republic of Nigeria," she said.
According to Volk, a preliminary investigation determined that the perpetrators had plotted and carried out a criminal scheme involving an international transfer of a professional Danish football club’s player.
Using their contacts, they found out that a famous Italian football team was interested in the player. After that they asked their friend, who illegally resided in Russia, to make a forged passport under an assumed name. The accomplices produced it at a bank in St. Petersburg, opened an account, and provided their bank details instead of the Danish football club’s ones in the accompanying documents, and sent them to the Italians.
"As a result of this scheme, the Italian football club’s 800,000 euro earmarked for the football player’s transfer payment were made available to the perpetrators and stolen," the Russian Interior Ministry Spokeswoman added.
Criminal proceedings have been launched under Part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation "Fraud". At the time of the arrest, one of the perpetrators tried to hide outside the 17th-floor balcony in Murino, in the Leningrad Region. At the last moment, the law enforcement officers managed to hold him and haul him back, saving his life. The accomplices had spent some of the stolen money, with over 57 million rubles (over $780,000) seized. The suspects are currently under arrest.