French football club files complaint against Prince Norodom Ravihak of Cambodia – Radio Free Asia

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET on 11/09/2021

The bank guarantee of 100 million euros ($ 115 million) given by Cambodian prince Norodom Ravichak in support of his offer to buy French football club Saint-Etienne was a fake, the president of the Bernard Caiazzo club in RFA.

“It took a while to figure it out, but in the end all the specialists said this document was a fake document,” Caiazzo said.

A statement released Monday by the club said that a complaint would be filed against the prince with the public prosecutor of the hometown of the club “for acts of forgery, use of forgery and attempted fraud”.

“It’s completely crazy,” Caiazzo said. “He sent this [fake] document from a large bank, I cannot say which one. It was a foreign bank but one of the top three in its country.

The club’s suspicions were aroused when it emerged that the bank representative’s signature on the collateral belonged to someone who had not worked for the bank for several years, Caiazzo added.

A press release shared with RFA on Tuesday morning on behalf of Ravichak did not categorically deny that the € 100 million bank guarantee was a fake. He noted, however, that the prince had not had access to the Saint-Etienne data room.

“The document was therefore never used as a financial guarantee for the redemption of the club,” the statement read.

The Data Room is a secure online storage facility operated by an accounting firm that allows selected applicants who bid on the club to view confidential club information as part of their due diligence process.

The press release added: “Norodom Ravichak denounces this destabilization operation in the course of the takeover of [Saint-Etienne], the Prince having always mobilized in the interest of the club and its supporters.

“Norodom Ravihak reserves the right to take all appropriate legal actions in response to the complaint that has been filed against him,” he said.

His offer to take over Saint-Etienne was accompanied by great public promises to revitalize it. The club is one of the best known in France, but it has struggled both on the pitch and financially in recent years.

“My goal today is to take care of Saint-Étienne and all those who are working to restore this club to its rightful place in French and European football,” he told Radio France Internationale in September.

Ravihak is the nephew of King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia. His public image is that of a businessman and philanthropist.

But Monday’s news was not the first controversy to hit the prince’s failed bid for the club. RFA reported in September on the extensive trade relations of Ravichak, 47, with French nationals Ahmed and Abdelkader Bessedik. In recent years, the Qatar-based brothers have been linked to allegations that Nasser Al Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain football club, bribed a senior official at FIFA, the international football governing body.

The Geoffroy-Guichard stadium, home of the French football club Saint-Etienne, in a file photo from February 17, 2019. Credit: Reuters.

Ravihak’s attempted takeover of the club was the subject of what Caiazzo described as grossly inaccurate reports in the press.

Everyone involved denied any wrongdoing. The Swiss court ruling on the case concluded that neither was guilty of a criminal offense, but that a “corrupt arrangement” had nonetheless been made and that “unfair and unlawful behavior” had been committed.

In September chronicle for Eurosport citing the RFA report, French football journalist Philippe Auclair speculated that perhaps the Bessedik – whom he described as “part of the immediate entourage of the president of PSG [Paris Saint Germain]”- were involved in Ravihak’s offer for Saint-Etienne.

A photo posted to social media by a French Khmer entrepreneur last month showed Ravihak having dinner at a restaurant with two former Paris Saint-Germain players – midfielder Edwin Murati and goalkeeper Jean-Michel Moutier – and Sokan Oum, a Cambodian diplomat who holds the title of adviser to the embassy of the Kingdom in Paris.

Vibol Oum, who posted the photo on LinkedIn, told RFA that the prince’s candidacy for Saint-Etienne was not discussed during what he described as “just a friendly lunch”. He declined to say who organized the meal.

Caiazzo told RFA on Monday night that he was unsure whether the Bessediks were involved in Ravihak’s offer for the club. The president of Saint-Etienne said he had never met the prince because Ravichak conducted all his relations with the club through a lawyer.

“They said he had 500 million euros. This is bullshit, ”he told RFA.

Current Saint-Étienne shareholders, including club president Caiazzo, are now clearly anxious to see Ravihak punished for what they claim to be his attempt to defraud them.

The club president said Ravihak’s big promises for Saint-Etienne a few months ago sounded the alarm bells.

“Normally all very serious [buyers], they do not speak. They don’t speak because it’s not in their best interests to speak, ”said Caiazzo. “When I see people talking in the media, most of the time it’s because they are not serious and they have no money.”

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