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In December 2011, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, with an estimated wealth of about 6.8 billion dollars from his interests in potassium fertiliser production, bought a two-thirds share in AS Monaco, the football club based in the tiny French-controlled Riviera principality of Monte Carlo, where he resides. Mediapart can reveal that his grand ambitions for the club, which plays in France’s top-flight division, Ligue 1, saw him attempt to hide his massive and illegal funding of the team behind a supposed marketing contract involving an offshore structure of companies in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. But his chosen partner in the scheme finally pulled out, threatening a “neutron bomb” of revelations, while the governing body of European association football, UEFA, was to turn a blind eye to the deal.
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