Football: Tapie in forgery charge

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The Independent Online
BERNARD TAPIE, the president of Marseille, has been charged with forgery and embezzlement during his control of the club, writes Julian Nundy from Paris.

Tapie said yesterday that the charge made against him on Saturday, concerning the club's affairs between 1987 and 1990, was another 'juridico-media plot based on false accusations'. He said he had invested 180m francs (pounds 21m) in the club.

The weekly, Le Nouvel Observateur, quoted a police report earlier this month which said 80m francs had left the club's accounts in the last three years of the 1980s via 'false bills and unjustified payments'.

Investigations into the club's affairs have alleged illegal under-the-table payments to players through Swiss banks. Tapie was informed of the charge by an investigating magistrate in Marseille. It was apparently kept secret until yesterday so as not to influence his election to a Marseille canton in local elections on Sunday.

Last month, Tapie was charged with corruption in connection with allegations that Marseille bribed Valenciennes players last May before a league match Marseille won.

In addition to matters affecting Marseille, Tapie has been charged in connection with his management of one of his companies.

The new charge came after Tapie had an unusual run of good fortune. Last week, a court overturned an order by the Valenciennes examining magistrate to abandon his job as head of Marseille by mid-April. A few days before, Credit Lyonnais agreed to spread Tapie's debts over several years. On Sunday, Tapie took the fifth canton of Marseille with 68 per cent of the vote.