Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MAJOR NEW SHARE PROBE AT CHELSEA; FSA Says Market May Have Been Misled on Club Deal

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MAJOR NEW SHARE PROBE AT CHELSEA; FSA Says Market May Have Been Misled on Club Deal

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK GOODWAY;PATRICK SAWER

THE takeover of Chelsea football club is today at the centre of a major financial probe.

The City's top watchdog has launched an investigation into the ownership of Chelsea Village, the company which owns the soccer club.

The scale of the probe is said to be unprecedented.

This comes on top of its inquiry into possible insider dealing immediately before the [pounds sterling]140 million takeover agreed between Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and chairman Ken Bates.

The Financial Services Authority told the Stock Exchange this morning that it had been tipped off by a number of secret sources that some of the shareholdings in Chelsea may not have been exactly as they were claimed.

There has always been a mystery about who actually owned the nine companies which agreed to sell their shares to Mr Abramovich.

The FSA and the Takeover Panel are investigating the relationship between these companies which make up a complex web of offshore trusts.

The FSA said today: "We recently received detailed information to back up our concerns." The regulator has the powers to levy unlimited fines and can launch criminal prosecutions. The FSA added that it "is conducting inquiries into the nature and status of certain shareholdings in Chelsea Village plc" in the period before the announcement of the Russian takeover.

The FSA said of today's probe that it "follows the receipt of information from a number of sources suggesting that the publicly disclosed shareholdings of certain parties may have been inaccurate".

The FSA said it was " concerned that as a consequence the market may have been misled as to the true nature of the ownership of Chelsea Village plc".

It added: "These inquiries are separate from and in addition-to the ongoing inquiries into various dealings in the shares of Chelsea Village plc ahead of the announcement of the recommended mandatory cash offer on behalf of Chelsea Limited ( the Abramovich takeover). …

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