Sat, Dec 06, 2008 - Page 18 News List

UEFA asks Cyprus FA for information on Anorthosis probe

AFP , NICOSIA

A UEFA official said on Thursday that soccer’s European governing body has requested information on embezzlement allegations involving Champions League surprise package Anorthosis.

“UEFA have asked for information from the Cyprus Football Association,” UEFA’s Cypriot vice chairman Marios Lefkaritis told state TV.

He said UEFA would not intervene, but just wanted to be kept posted on developments.

The former president of Cypriot high fliers Anorthosis Famagusta was released from custody on Thursday after helping a police probe into the allegations.

Andreas Panteli — who has not been formally charged — spent six days in custody after fellow board members filed fraud allegations against him.

Panteli resigned as club chairman from his Nicosia detention cell on Monday and pledged to return any amount of money found owing to Anorthosis following an independent audit. He denies any wrongdoing.

Although the Anorthosis board withdrew its complaint against the 48-year-old, citing reasons of public interest, the police investigation continued.

Panteli was arrested on Nov. 28, two days after Anorthosis drew 2-2 with Werder Bremen in the Champions League. Police are looking into financial mismanagement involving 1 million euros (US$1.26 million).

Police are investigating a case of forgery, distribution of forged documents, theft, obtaining money under false pretenses and trying to cover it up.

The high-profile figure was accused by fellow executive members of obtaining 418,498 euros under false pretenses and of trying to take another 500,000 euros in club assets.

The offenses are said to have taken place between August and November. Champions League takings are also thought to be part of the missing money.

Last week, Panteli, said he was “shocked and surprised” by a whispering campaign against him and that he had “nothing to hide.”

Fans are hoping the affair will not damage the team’s progress in Europe, while manager Temuri Ketsbaia has insisted he will stand by his close friend whatever the outcome.

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