31 May 2006

The Web
Business Today

Buffon’s EUR10,000 Malta bet may be key to magisterial investigation

Italy’s Corriere della Sera has reported that a EUR10,000 bet risks jeopardizing national goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, one of the sportsmen investigate by Torino and Parma magistrates over a gambling and bribery scandal that has rocked Italian football.
Buffon’s bets were conducted through betting websites registered in Malta, apart from other countries.
But it’s the latest EUR10,000 Bet Class bet that could prove to be the key evidence that shows the azzurri’s keeper had gambled even after the entry into force of regulations prohibiting such gambling.
Investigators have acquired records from the current bank accounts of four brokers being investigated for having gambled monies passed on to them by football players: apart from Buffon, these include Antonio Chimenti, Enzo Maresca and Mark Iuliano.

On 16 January 2006, Buffon’s account registered a EUR10,000 withdrawal. That same day, Paolo Pellizzoni, one of the four Parma bookmakers, deposited EUR10,000 into his account. The possible coincidence will need Buffon’s admission before police can proceed. Investigations over the links between Buffon and his friend Alessandro Brignoli, a Parmalat storekeeper who handled the transactions between the keeper and the bookmakers, are still ongoing because police are tracing telephone calls and SMSs between the two.
Buffon has denied every betting on Italian games, especially those of his own team, Juventus.
According to investigations, 15 messages are exchanged by phone between Buffon and Brignoli on 10 August 2004 when Juventus drew 2-2 against Djurgarden in a Champions League match. Buffon also called Brignoli five times on the day of the Palermo match of 25 September 2004 in which Juve drew 1-1.
Bookmaker Paolo Pelizzoni would collect millions from Alessandro Brignoli, a storekeeper with Italian foodstuff giant Parmalat, to bet on the UK online site Eurobet. Buffon allegedly passed on some EUR2 million to Brignoli to place the bets.
When banks referred the multi-million transfers to the authorities, suspecting money laundering, it was first found that the transfers were actually clean.
For months they monitored the transactions, until they referred the case to the Italian police and the Torino magistrature. There they discovered the channels used by football players who played on Eurobet, or the Maltese gaming site Bet Class.
Prosecutors are investigating top clubs, referees and officials for suspected match-fixing in one of the biggest scandals to hit Italy since the 1980s. Resignations have followed, with the Italian football federation president and vice-president Franco Carraro and Innocenzo Mazzini, and the entire Juventus board stepping down.

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