The departure of Raul Sanllehi is becoming rather complicated and after his sudden departure as Head of Football, his association with Kia Joorabchian is now facing further scrutiny. The super-agent enjoyed unprecedented access to the club and had a solid relationship with Sanllehi in particular, but that may all be at an end depending on the level of their cooperation on some recent deals involving cash from the North London club.
Sanllehi, suddenly, left the club when an internal investigation was conducted into the £72m transfer of Nicolas Pepe and it’s now believed that Arsenal are looking at every deal during his reign that had his personal involvement including the last-minute trolley dash for David Luiz.
Let me stress at this point that the players have absolutely no involvement in this apart from accepting the legitimate terms of their contract including their wages and signature. The ongoing investigation is said to be focusing on companies that are not attached to the participating clubs but ones that are connected with providing other services, quite what those services are, remain unclear at present.
The club may feel that depending on the available evidence, Raul Sanllehi is guilty of theft and that prosecution would be necessary. The club would like to avoid that type of unwanted publicity but if it is passed onto the police, then it would be unavoidable.
This is purely speculation at this stage, in a story that is developing faster than we can actually write about it. The investigation will also focus on the links Sanllehi had with Kia Joorabchian, the Iranian-born businessman who was involved in a two-year investigation into money laundering in Brazil back in 2005.
Joorabchian had a connection to the Brazilian club Corinthians and those links were thought to include some illegal transactions. The investigators uncovered some offshore accounts which were said to have benefited from the various dealings of the super-agent.
Yet, the conclusion was that there was insufficient evidence to support the suggestion of a partnership between Joorabchian’s company MSI and Corinthians to launder money. Sanllehi’s hasty exit has certainly highlighted the Iranian businessman’s past and Arsenal are hoping that the pair’s association is legitimate.
A source connected with the Emirates revealed that Arsenal acted immediately after it became clear that the head of football had links to some irregular activities on behalf of the club and he was told of their decision before being officially relieved of his duties with immediate effect, without being able to retrieve anything from the Emirates offices.
An official press release was hastily put together to counter the various rumours that began circulating about Sanllehi’s departure on social media yesterday evening. The club’s hierarchy looked at issuing an alternative story with the public relations/publicity department that claimed it was for reasons of streamlining within the operation.
It was very noticeable that the mainstream media were blanking out the story tonight with an almost sanitised version of events or by reporting on transfer rumours.