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Police charge 3 at Stade Francais over fraud

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Article Published: Friday 24 June 2011

Three people were charged on Friday in connection with the alleged fraud that has left leading French rugby club Stade Francais teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The three people, who were arrested during the course of the week, have been charged with organised fraud, forgery and using forged documents, according to a judicial source.

They have not been publicly identified although the first to be arrested on Tuesday was said to be of Cameroonian nationality. Two have been taken into custody, the third is under judicial supervision.

Earlier on Friday, the Paris public prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding the alleged fraud.

The inquiry comes after club president Max Guazzini and administrator Bernard Laporte filed a complaint against the Canadian foundation FACEM.

The pair claimed FACEM failed to deposit 12 millions euros ($17m) that had been promised as part of a deal that would have seen the federation take over as major shareholders of the club.

Stade, who were runners-up in this year's European Challenge Cup, need to find 6.6 million euros before Monday if they are to retain their status in the Top 14, the French first division.

Guazzini and Laporte -- a former Stade and France coach and ex-sports minister -- lodged their complaints when they discovered that the papers provided by FACEM were false.

France's sports minister Chantal Jouanno on Thursday ruled out a state rescue package for the club but said the government would help as far as it could.

"The state cannot save Stade Francais," said Jouanno. "We met to see how we can try and help.

"You cannot imagine how swindling and economic difficulties can do such damage to this legendary club."

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