Lorient midfielder Sylvain Marveaux arrested in tax fraud probe

PARIS -- Lorient midfielder Sylvain Marveaux was among four people briefly detained in France in an investigation into suspected tax evasion and money laundering in the transfer of football players between England and France.

A person with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that Marveaux, a former Newcastle player, was arrested on Wednesday as raids were carried out in both countries.

French newspaper Le Parisien first reported the arrest of Marveaux.

L'Equipe reported him as saying on Thursday: "The media and social media talked today about my spell in custody in the matter concerning alleged fraud in English football.

"I would firstly like to specify that my spell in custody was yesterday [Wednesday] and not today [Thursday] and went well, during which I fully cooperated with the investigating services.

"They are interested in a matter about which I have very little information, that is to say the terms of my arrival at Newcastle in 2011.

"That's all I can say for the moment other than that I will continue to cooperate with the authorities and provide all the information that is asked of me."

The three other people detained were players' agents, AP was told. Nobody at Lorient was immediately available for comment.

French authorities are assisting the British-led investigation, which centres on whether payments to players, agents or third parties were hidden to evade income tax and social security contributions.

Premier League leaders Chelsea, West Ham, and Newcastle are the only clubs in England so far to be publicly embroiled in the far-reaching investigation.

Britain's tax authority, HMRC, which seized financial records, computers, and phones in raids, said the suspected fraud amounted to £5 million.

The escalation in the investigation on Wednesday followed HMRC telling legislators in December that 43 players and 12 clubs in the British leagues, alongside eight agents, were being investigated.

Marveaux joined Newcastle on a five-year contract in 2011 before signing a loan deal with Guingamp that brought him back to France three years later.