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Russian Oligarch Suspected of Mafia Ties Sells Spanish Football Club

Alexander Grinberg /

A Russian businessman suspected of mafia ties has sold a Spanish second-division football club that he purchased five years ago.

Alexander Grinberg served as Marbella FC’s chairman after purchasing the crisis-hit club in 2013 for the symbolic sum of 1 euro. Spanish authorities arrested Grinberg with 11 other Russian nationals in a mafia raid in September 2017, and released him on bail Feb. 8.

“Marbella FC starts a new era,” the club announced Monday.

It said China’s Zhao Zhen, a sports business consultant at Hong Kong-based Guirenniao investment holding, acquired the club and took over its presidency.

Zhao bought a majority of Marbella shares from Grinberg for an undisclosed sum, according to the English-language version of Spain’s Sur newspaper.

Grinberg had entered negotiations with Saudi, U.S. and Belgian groups after his assets were frozen and players’ wages went unpaid during his arrest, Sur reported.

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