Former FC Xamax owner has prison sentence shortened

Bulat Chagaev, pictured at a previous trial in Neuchâtel, in 2016. © KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

A Swiss court has reduced the three-year prison sentence given to Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev, former owner of Swiss football club FC Neuchâtel Xamax, by six months.

This content was published on December 17, 2020 - 18:29

Neuchâtel cantonal court on Thursday sentenced Chagaev to 30 months in prison, 12 months of which are unconditional, for faulty and negligent management.

Chagaev bought the club in May 2011, taking over from previous president Sylvio Bernasconi; just eight months later, however, Xamax was declared bankrupt, thereby losing its licence to play in the Swiss Super League and leaving an unpaid debt pile of CHF23 million ($26 million).

+ More background on the collapse of FC Neuchâtel Xamax

Following several years of investigations into the club’s collapse, Chagaev (who had also been provisionally arrested at the time) was found guilty in 2016 by a Neuchâtel court of criminal mismanagement, embezzlement of tax money, attempted fraud, and falsifying documents.

He was handed a three-year prison sentence – suspended for two years – and various fines, a sentence that was upheld in 2017 by a cantonal appeals court.

However, the Federal Court overturned this verdict in January 2019, accepting in part Chagaev’s appeal. The judges in Lausanne ruled that the Neuchâtel judiciary should have provided the detailed figures on the club’s debt.

The businessman, who holds a Russian passport, had to leave Switzerland in August 2013 on the instructions of canton Vaud.

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