Italian prosecutors open inquiry in Qatar sheikh’s bid for Roma

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Rome prosecutors have opened an inquiry into an Arab sheikh’s bid to buy part of the Roma football club.

Roma announced a preliminary deal for Sheikh Adnan Adel Aref al Qaddumi al Shtewi to enter its ownership group last week. Since then, trading of Roma shares on the Milan stock exchange has fluctuated greatly, causing several suspensions.

After Roma’s announcement, shares rose significantly, only to fall sharply Monday in anticipation of the court inquiry and widespread media reports casting doubt on Al Qaddumi’s financial legitimacy.

Al Qaddumi is believed to be of Qatari heritage but was born in Jordan. Local media have reported that he has lived near Perugia in Italy for at least 25 years.

In 2011, a group of four Boston executives closed a deal with Roma to become the first foreign majority owners of a Serie A club. But Roma continues to seek more funding which could aid its plan to build a new stadium.

Last year, Boston Celtics minority owner James Pallotta replaced Thomas DiBenedetto as Roma president.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Pallotta signed off on a preliminary €50 million ($66.5 million) deal with Al Qaddumi.

Widespread newspaper reports said Al Qaddumi was introduced to Pallotta by former Juventus player Michele Padovano, who was sentenced to 8 years, 8 months for drug trafficking in 2011.

Roma issued a new statement Monday saying that it had carried out due diligence on the deal and that Al Qaddumi has until March 14 to pay for his share.