MOSCOW: Anzhi Makhachkala owner Suleiman Kerimov has been named a wanted man by authorities in Belarus in the latest twist in the club’s controversial existence.
The R-Sport news agency has reported that billionaire oligarch Kerimov has been named a suspect in “the abuse of power and official authority” in relation to a collapsed joint venture in the fertiliser industry.
Kerimov is the largest shareholder in the Uralkali company, which partnered with a Belarusian firm to create BKK, which produced more than 40pc of the world’s supply of potash, a key ingredient in fertiliser production.
The joint venture was ended last month, resulting in a diplomatic rift between Russia and Belarus. The potash industry is a key source of revenue for the Belarusian government, which is heavily dependent on trade with Russia.
R-Sport, quoting investigators, stated that Belarusian law allows for a prison term of up to a decade for those found guilty under the legislation being used against Kerimov.
“The shareholder of the Uralkali open joint-stock company Suleiman Kerimov has been added by the Investigative Committee of Belarus, in the capacity of a suspect, to the already proceeding criminal case related to officials of the BKK closed joint-stock company,” investigators said in a statement.
The latest news comes after Anzhi last month announced details of a major financial restructuring.
The Dagestan-based club rose to prominence in the European game through the big spending of Kerimov following his takeover of the club in January 2011. Anzhi’s budget for 2013 was reportedly $180 million, the second-highest in the Premier League behind Gazprom-backed Zenit Saint-Petersburg.
Anzhi chairman Konstantin Remchukov had said the club will be “re-formatted” in a bid to bring its annual budget to around the $50-70 million mark. In a statement, Anzhi conceded that its initial strategy of heavy investment hasn’t paid off and it will now pursue a long-term plan focused on youth investment.
This has since seen a fire sale of its top players and Anzhi, third in the league last season, are now 14th in the 16-team table having picked up only three points from their opening seven games of the 2013-14 campaign.
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