FIFA have taken the unprecedented step of hiring Quest Investigations, one of the worlds leading corporate investigation companies, to look into a series of transfer deals emanating from the Premier League in England.
The move to bring in Quest, fresh from their investigation into Formula One that led to Flavio Briatore's resignation, had led to fury in the upper echelons of the Premier League as they were unaware that FIFA were looking into their transfer dealings.
FIFA have confirmed that they are investigating 15 transfer deals since January '08 as well as the original 15 transfer deals from 2004 to 2008 that the original Quest investigation was unable to clear.
The step to involve Quest is not unusual as they are the company charged by the FA to carry out a full audit on every transfer in the English leagues, both domestic and international.
Quest and its Directors have unparalleled experience in conducting investigations for corporate clients, regulators, major law firms, and financial institutions. The team conducts both overt and discreet investigations as required by the client who appear in this case to be a combination of the FA and FIFA.
It is believed that these new transfer deals involve international transfers between England and abroad.
The original Quest investigation was inconclusive, and claims that a "bung culture" was rife in England were left unfounded. However new investigations by Quest claim that the bung culture is indeed alive and well, as they claim to have uncovered as many suspect deals in the last 18 months as the FA had produced in the four year period between 2004 and 2008.
Quest have come to the fore in recent times for their investigation into the Renault "Crashgate" probe for the F1 governing body, which culminated in the resignations of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds from Renault.
The FA usually refer suspect transfer deals to FIFA whilst informing the EPL, however Richard Scudamore and other senior officials from the EPL governing body have been caught on the hop as the FA chose not to inform them this time.
This has sparked a war of words between the two main bodies in England.
An FA spokesman said: "We have referred 15 cases to FIFA since January 2008." He declined to elaborate on which transfers were involved.
The EPL have so far refused to comment while FIFA had this to say on the matter:
"All cases have an element of internationality and fall outside of the FA's jurisdiction. When FIFA have concluded their investigations into the Quest cases, the first party to be informed will be the FA.
"FIFA are also reviewing a number of more recent cases forwarded to us by the FA.
"In accordance with the 2008 Players' Agents Regulations, these cases fall under the FIFA disciplinary committee."
The EPL has recently come under the spotlight of UEFA and FIFA through the transfer of Gael Kakuta from RC Lens to Chelsea in 2007.
It was one of the transfers from Quest's original dossier, and the two year FIFA probe ended in Chelsea being banned from signing players for the next 16 months after they were found guilty of inducing the player to break his contract with the French club.
Chelsea have since vowed to fight this decision, and have been led to believe by the Court of Sports Arbitration that if they leave their appeal application until the very last moment they will be allowed to sign players in the next transfer window, but may then face the prospect of the 16 month ban starting next summer instead.
The spectre of fraud and dodgy dealings have hung over the EPL for the last five years, and it would seem that the same clud will hang for some time while FIFA carry out their own probe, which could last for up to four years.
The reputation of the EPL has been sullied somewhat by these new findings, and Richard Scudamore will have much to do if it is to be repaired anytime soon.
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