Everton Football Club owner Farhad Moshiri received more than £400m from Alisher Usmanov companies ahead of sanctions against the Russian billionaire, documents show, raising new questions about the financial ties between the two men.
Records seen by the Guardian appear to show that Moshiri borrowed £145 million from around 2020 from a company wholly owned by the Russian-Uzbek tycoon.
The papers also outline how, between 2018 and 2022, Moshiri sold about £270 million of shares in a company in which Usmanov was the largest shareholder. Moshiri did not pay for those shares, public accounts show, which accounting experts say could indicate the stock sales were a gift.
Usmanov is and should be one of the richest people in the world near Vladimir Putin. He has had a long-standing business relationship with Moshiri and the pair jointly owned a shareholding in Arsenal Football Club. Moshiri sold his Arsenal shares back to Usmanov in 2016 to fund his initial investment in Everton.
The discovery of the Previously undisclosed financial documents raise new questions about the relationship between the men – as well as Moshiri’s true wealth, just days after the British businessman announced a preliminary deal to sell Everton to US investment firm 777 Partners.
The papers also appear to be inconsistent with Moshiri’s previous statements about how he might move forward Financing the Premier League club He himself and his promise to provide ongoing financial support were crucial to Everton’s auditors signing off on the 2022 accounts this year.
In January, Moshiri told TalkSport: “I walk my talk, that’s the best thing an owner can do.”
After being presented with the information outlined in the internal documents, a spokesman for Usmanov declined to discuss specific details of the financing, but said: “Mr. Moshiri and his companies are indeed indebted to Mr. Usmanov and those associated with them.” “We hope that the debt will be repaid after Mr. Moshiri completes the sale of the Everton club, which is now being actively announced in the press.”
It is not clear how such a repayment could currently take place like Usmanov under the sanctions of the British government since March 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a move he has repeatedly described as “unfair and unjustified”. British citizens are not allowed to transfer funds to people who have been sanctioned without government approval.
The Russian billionaire has been banned from entering Great Britain since September 2021. At this point, the Football Association reportedly made it clear to Alisher Usmanov that he would not be allowed to lend money to Everton – or any other football club.
However, documents seen by the Guardian show a number of Moshiri’s debts to Usmanov companies – raising questions about whether Moshiri invested any of those funds in Everton.
The extent of the Russian tycoon’s previously undisclosed financial ties to Moshiri also raises further questions about the former accountant-turned-Premier League owner’s wealth, estimated at £1.6bn.
Documents indicate that Windfel Properties – a company owned by Usmanov – loaned Moshiri £70m between around 2020 and March 2022. A Moshiri-owned company also appears to have borrowed a further £75m from Windfel during this time, the papers say.
Separately, Moshiri appears to have received around £270 million from the sale of shares in USM, the conglomerate founded by Usmanov, in which the Russian is the largest individual shareholder with a 49% stake, according to internal records.
The windfall came despite publicly available documents filed in Cyprus indicating that Moshiri had never paid for those shares.
The Briton was listed as owning 10% of USM, but the company’s own accounts appear to show that Moshiri would have to pay $200m (£160m) to exercise the “option” to acquire those shares.
Internal documents show that the $200 million “deferred payment” for the acquisition of the shares has not been paid until March 2022. The Guardian can also reveal that USM has reduced its outstanding debt from an initial $780 million following a $490 million write-down in 2016. Accounting experts said this raises the question of whether Moshiri was actually given hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to internal records, the Everton owner’s debt to USM was further reduced by the British businessman’s default on about $90 million in USM dividends – even though he did not appear to have purchased any shares in the company.
In a series of transactions in British pounds and US dollars, Moshiri then sold some of those USM shares – apparently back to the company – for about 270 million pounds between 2018 and 2022, internal documents show. Final sales are dated February 2022 in financial filings. Lawyers for Moshiri said he continued to own a 5% stake in USM and that his involvement in it was never an “option.”
The huge sums Moshiri appears to have received from Usmanov companies add to recurring questions about the nature of the relationship between the Everton owner and the Russian billionaire before he was sanctioned in March 2022.
These questions have been reinforced by recent Guardian reports that a number of football managers claimed they were interviewed for the Everton manager’s job in the presence of Usmanov; and how former manager Carlo Ancelotti held talks with the Russian about a series of incentive payments tied to Everton’s performance in the Premier League.
While Usmanov acknowledged his commitment to the club, he always emphasized that he had no direct or indirect stake in Everton and that Moshiri made all decisions at the club. He has also repeatedly stated that he followed Premier League rules and did not break any laws.
Moshiri has always said that he invested his own money in the Premier League club and that he did not misrepresent his status or his relationship with Usmanov.
During the period, the British businessman appears to have benefited from £415 million in funding from Usmanov companies, and was also publicly credited with investing £600 million in Everton an analysis of the club’s accounts carried out by the fan website TheEsk.org. Moshiri is said to have invested a total of £750 million in Everton.
However, the club is looking for an investor as it was forced to distance itself from Usmanov following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Before the war, Usmanov’s companies were a major sponsor of Everton. contribute An estimated £114 million has flowed into the club’s coffers since 2017. Last month, a proposed investment deal by MSP Sports Capital fell through.
Earlier this year, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated that Moshiri was worth around £1.6bn. Aside from Everton, Moshiri was listed as owning UK property worth more than £100 million Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building and a range of luxury properties in north London owned by a portfolio of Isle of Man companies. At least one of the London houses was given to Moshiri by Usmanov “not for money,” according to Land Registry documents.
A lawyer for Moshiri did not address questions about the amount of money Moshiri received from Usmanov companies, nor the suggestion that the debt was used to finance Everton.
She said: “As owner of Everton FC, Farhad Moshiri has always acted in the best interests of the club and its fans. He is not controlled by Alisher Usmanov (or anyone else) nor does he act on his behalf. These false claims have been refuted by independent research.”