Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is to sue Liberation after the french newspaper reported on his alleged involvement in a money laundering operation.
Benzema gave evidence as a witness into an investigation into money laundering several months ago, but a report in Friday’s Liberation intimated that he was involved in the scheme.
The report stated that the Paris prosecutor had opened an investigation on 17 September over the acquisition of a small business by a company that Benzema owns shares in. The business was later sold on for a huge loss.
The investigative magistrate in charge of the case appeared to play down Benzema’s involvement in the case, but his lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti, says he will be taking legal action against Liberation.
“He is a simple witness,” Dupond-Moretti told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“He is the only witness in a case who appears on the cover of a newspaper as if he were guilty of a series of offences.
“The headline is very evocative, look at the words used: ‘money laundering’, ‘organised gangs’, ‘drugs’.
“I will sue Liberation.”
Benzema is already under investigation for his part in an alleged conspiracy to blackmail international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, although he denies any wrongdoing.
He has not played for France since the allegations emerged and Noël Le Graët, the head of the French Football Federation, claimed last year that it was impossible to select him for the national team while the blackmail allegation hung over him. However, last week, a French court lifted restrictions on his movement and agreed that he could have contact with Valbuena, thus opening up the possibility of him representing France at this summer’s Euro 2016 finals.