The future owner of Beitar Jerusalem is said to have a spotty business record
French-Jewish businessman Stephane Melloul, soon to be the new owner of Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, has been accused by a former employee and business partners of failing to pay them amid reports citing an uneven business record.
“Even though I am not a die-hard football fan, I think this person should be arrested, he is dangerous for Beitar Jerusalem,” Daniel Dahan, who was employed by Melloul about nine years ago, told the media on Friday. Israeli sports channel. .
Dahan said Melloul offered him a job when he was in dire financial straits.
“We signed a work contract, for me everything went well. I started working for him and after the first month I did not receive my salary. He told me ‘there are problems with the account, with the bank’,” Dahan said.
“I was naive, I said ‘no worries, he’s probably really in trouble with the bank’, I wasn’t stressed,” he said. “We came to the second month of work, I told him that this time too the salary did not come in, and he started to make excuses,” Dahan said, adding that he quit shortly after. .
Dahan said he hired a lawyer to try to recover his unpaid wages, but the business had already closed. “There was no one to talk to. In the end, I didn’t see a single euro.
According to a separate report, first published in December 2020 and cited by the Walla news site on Thursday, Melloul took possession of a small French slaughterhouse from a family in financial difficulty, as they hoped it would be in able to keep them afloat. But just 10 months later, Melloul closed the business, laying off all 12 employees.
Several people connected to the slaughterhouse said Melloul had failed to pay its suppliers and had gone deeper and deeper into debt before the establishment closed.
Melloul blamed difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and said he only discovered the company’s financial difficulties after the purchase, a claim denied by the family, who said everything was clear at the time. advance.
There was no immediate comment from Melloul on either report.
סטפן מלול התעניין ברכישת בית “ר בתקופת גאידמק, ונעלם כשהתבקש לספק ירטמטמ pic.twitter.com/cuuX9BiiZM
— sport1 (@Sport1_Sport2) January 13, 2022
On Thursday, Beitar Jerusalem announced it would be sold to Melloul, as its current owner battles allegations of sex crimes and massive financial fraud.
Both parties will conduct a brief due diligence process and then sign a final agreement for the sale, the team said.
Melloul will transfer $1 million to a trust as part of the deal as security for the sale’s execution, and after the sale he will assume all of the club’s debts, the team said.
The announcement did not disclose the final price for the team.
The club’s current owner, Moshe Hogeg, was arrested late last year for alleged sex crimes and cryptocurrency fraud. He was held for almost a month before being released under house arrest on bail and other financial guarantees amounting to about 70 million shekels ($22 million) in total.
Hogeg was arrested along with seven other people suspected of being involved in an alleged massive fraud. He is also suspected of sexual crimes, including trafficking and prostitution of minors, as well as indecent acts, sexual harassment, operating a place for prostitution, invasion of privacy, bringing an individual into prostitution and supplying drugs and alcohol. to underage girls.
Hogeg has denied all charges against him and said he was treated cruelly while in police custody to extract information, experts say the claims are valid in many cases.
Hogeg is a tech entrepreneur and cryptocurrency trader.
He bought Beitar Jerusalem in 2018. In September last year, before being charged with crimes, he said he would sell the club, citing racist anti-Arab tendencies among his “ungrateful” fans.
He faced backlash from notoriously racist anti-Arab factions among the club’s fans after selling a 50% stake in the club in 2020 to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. Al Nahyan has pledged to inject $90 million into the team over the next decade.
Then the Israel Football Association conducted a survey that found a potential “significant discrepancy” between Al Nahyan’s declared capital and what he actually owns. The deal fell through amid reported suspicions of financial malfeasance by Al Nahyan.
Beitar is one of the most famous franchises in the country, counting Israeli presidents and prime ministers among its fans.
But it also attracted negative attention for many years for being the only major club to never have an Arab player. Israel’s Arab minority makes up around 20% of the population, and Arab players play in rival teams and the country’s national team.
Club officials have in the past said their hands are tied by a stalwart far-right fanbase who wield considerable influence over staff decisions, including a small group of hardliners called La Familia who have embraced racist behavior during games.