Questions have been raised over who controls Everton FC after the complex offshore dealings of two billionaires were laid bare by the Paradise Papers.

Last year Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri sold his 15 per cent stake in Arsenal FC to oligarch Alisher Usmanov and used the money to buy a 50 per cent stake in the Merseyside club.

But secret documents leaked to the press suggest his original stake in Arsenal was funded by a 'gift' from Mr Usmanov raising concerns that it is the Russian's money that is now in Everton.

Farhad Moshiri

Farhad Moshiri

Alisher Usmanov

Alisher Usmanov

Business partners: Farhad Moshiri, left, sold his stake in Arsenal FC to Alisher Usmanov, right, last year

If that is the case, the deal would be in breach of Premier League rules which state that an individual who owns a stake of 10 per cent or more in one club cannot own a single share of another.

Mr Moshiri's lawyers have said any such allegations against their client are false and that his football investments were paid for with his own money. Mr Usmanov's legal representatives also deny the claims. 

The business associates bought a 14.58 per cent in Arsenal in 2007 through an offshore company called Red and White Holdings.

But the Paradise Papers state that the funding for the purchase came from Epion Holdings – a firm owned by Mr Usmanov.

Mr Moshiri's lawyers claim that their client repaid Mr Usmanov, who is reportedly worth £12bn, following the purchase.

And Mr Moshiri, who used to work as Mr Usmanov's accountant, himself described the allegations as 'crazy'.

He told the BBC: 'If it is a loan, you owe the money back to him. If it is a gift, it is yours. It is neither of them because I paid for it.'  

In 2016 Mr Moshiri, pictured at Goodison Park, bought a 49.9% stake in Everton Football Club

In 2016 Mr Moshiri, pictured at Goodison Park, bought a 49.9% stake in Everton Football Club

In 2016 Mr Moshiri, pictured at Goodison Park, bought a 49.9% stake in Everton Football Club

The associates increased their stake in Arsenal to 30.4 per cent before Mr Moshiri sold his half to Mr Usmanov in February 2016.

The Iranian, who is reportedly worth £1.8bn, then bought a 49.9 per cent in Everton FC which reportedly cost £87.5 million.

His lawyers said the Premier League had approved of the purchase after carrying out checks.

The deal raised suspicions at the time with one Russian news publication initially reporting that Mr Usmanov had bought the stake before removing the story from its website.

Further questions were prompted when it emerged Everton's training ground, Finch Farm, was sponsored by the Russian Oligarch's USM company.

The Premier League has refused to comment on the matter, stating that it 'would not disclose confidential information about clubs or individuals'.


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