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Silvio Berlusconi between Han Li (left) and Yonghong Li
Silvio Berlusconi between Han Li (left) and Yonghong Li

Where is the money of AC Milan’s Chinese investors coming from? This is the most recurrent question that those involved in sport and finance have been asking themselves since the preliminary approach between AC Milan and a group of Chinese investors took place. The postponement of the closing to the 3rd of March, justified by the delays in obtaining the mandatory governmental authorizations for the export of capital from China, has increased the rumors about this deal, even if the Chinese group led by Yonghong Li has paid a down-payment  of  €200 million to Fininvest.

On the 7th of December 2016, the Chinese group decided to postpone the closing of the AC Milan deal to March. Fininvest and Sino-Europe-Sport (SES) ratified the extension of the agreement  to pursue the 99.93% of AC Milan setting up a required second deposit of €100 million that the Chinese group was required to pay to Berlusconi’s family holding. The second down-payment, as confirmed by both parties, was paid on December 13, 2016, although the main question is still up in the air: Where is the money of AC Milan’s Chinese investors coming from?  Even the fact that the Chinese group led by Yonghong Li has been able to pay an extra €100 mln without the mandatory governmental authorizations triggered more interest in this deal. Where are the €200 million paid to Fininvest as a deposit coming from?

Where is the money of AC Milan’s Chinese investors coming from? The funds at the British Virgin Islands

Calcio e Finanza consulted documents in reference to companies related to the Sino-Europe-Sport (SES) . It is a contractual lien on the entire share capital of the SPV Rossoneri Champion (based in Hong Kong) that the parent company Rossoneri Sport Investment (also based in the former British colony) granted as collateral to the company that actually made the resources used to pay the second deposit available. This company is called Willy Shine International Holdings Limited and it doesn’t have offices in China but in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. This is an offshore financial center known for being one of the main tax havens in the world.

According to the documents that Calcio e Finanza has analyzed, on December 13, 2016 Willy Shine International Holdings made a loan of HK$830 million (about 102 million Euros) to Rossoneri Champion, obtaining the pledge as collateral on the entire capital of the latter. Thanks to the loan from Willy Shine International Holdings, SES has obtained the cash to honor its commitments to the holding company of the Berlusconi family. Therefore, these liquid assets do not come from China but from the British Virgin Islands, and therefore are not subject to restrictions under the Beijing government on the export of capital.

The main question is the following: Who is behind the Willy Shine International Holdings Limited? Who paid the deposits with money coming from the British Virgin Islands? It is impossible to answer on the basis of these public documents because the companies registered in the British Virgin Islands are not required to publish a list of their directors nor that of their shareholders. According to the documents that Calcio e Finanza publishes below, Ren Yubin signed the pledge agreement on behalf of Willy Shine International. Regarding the Rossoneri Sport  the signature is that of Chen Huashan (one of the collaborators of Li Yonghong).

However, according to sources close to the negotiations contacted by Calcio e Finanza, Sino-Europe Sports Investment paid the €200 million deposit to Fininvest.

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