Former Chelsea star Diego Costa “named as footballer subject to police investigation in alleged betting scandal”

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FORMER Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been named a footballer involved in an alleged betting scandal under investigation by police.

The 32-year-old striker, who currently plays for Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro team, has been identified by the national press in his native country as one of those under investigation by detectives from his home state, Sergipe.

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Diego Costa reportedly under police investigation in BrazilCredit: Getty

Police have yet to confirm the identities of those they say are involved in the alleged wrongdoing.

But they said an anonymous footballer was one of the suspects being investigated.

Detectives went public on Thursday, saying they were investigating the practice of suspected crimes, including money laundering and currency fraud involving online betting site Esportenet.

Sergipe State Police said in a statement: “On Wednesday morning, Sergipe State Police launched the second phase of an operation called Distraction.

“The objective is to obtain evidence for an investigation into the alleged practices of exploitation of gambling, money laundering, currency exchange and criminal association involving the ESPORTENET betting site, its owners, financial and financial operators.

‘In the first phase of the operation, which began on March 3 of this year, documents and electronic equipment were seized which further investigated and the sum of £ 1.77 million in cash has been seized.

“Based on the evidence gathered, it was possible to identify other betting platforms used by the group and individual companies and legal entities for allegations of money laundering and currency fraud.

“The participation of money changers who help the criminal organization to commit currency fraud has been verified, as well as the participation of a football player who is said to be the financier of the criminal scheme.

“At this stage, the investigation is focused on currency fraud, with particular emphasis on the currency exchange bureaus and the betting site’s financier.

“Seven search and seizure warrants are being executed, two in Itabaiana in Sergipe, one in Lagarto in Sergipe, two in Simao Dias in Sergipe, one in Salvador in the State of Bahia and one in Sao Paulo.

“The warrants were issued by a judge sitting at the Sixth Federal Court of Itabaaina.

“Arrest warrants for the seizure of property belonging to those involved in the criminal scheme are also being executed.”

MINEIRO DECLARATION

Unconfirmed local reports claimed that the home of Spain international Diego Costa was among the properties that had been searched.

There has been no official comment from Costa.

But Atletico Mineiro appeared to confirm the former Stamford Bridge striker was the footballer involved in the police investigation, saying they would back him if he asked for help in a statement.

The declaration, entitled “Official Declaration of Diego Costa” and published on the official club website, said: “The reports are not about the club.

“The allegations that have been made public were previously not known to the public or to the club as they were part of an investigation and they relate to a period prior to the athlete’s arrival here.

“However, Atletico Mineiro are trying to find out more and if the athlete needs it we will offer him any support that may be needed.”

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