Former Newcastle United midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has been arrested in connection with the cross-Channel fraud inquiry into Premier League transfers.
Marveaux, who left St James’ Park last summer for Ligue 1 side Lorient, was one of four people held in custody as part of an investigation which has also engulfed West Ham United and Chelsea.
French police sources said the 31-year-old had been arrested along with “three agents of players” during what were a wave of raids in England and France on Thursday.
Mike Ashley’s right-hand man at Newcastle, managing director Lee Charnley, was released on Wednesday night after being arrested by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs that morning.
Marveaux joined Newcastle in 2011 on a five-year contract but started just 26 games and scored only twice before being loaned to Guingamp in 2014.
Upon signing for Lorient, he described his time in England as “a failure”.
Discussing Newcastle’s former manager Alan Pardew, he said: “I always tried to stay positive and make the maximum impact.
“At one time, my relationship with the coach was a little tough. So, I had to leave. That’s why I asked to go out on loan, including Guingamp.”
Marveaux was said on Thursday to be out injured after picking up a hamstring problem two weeks ago during a game against Montpellier.
Newcastle scout Graham Carr, the father of television comedian Alan Carr, has also revealed he was expecting to be interviewed by HMRC, which is leading the UK end of the investigation into a suspected £5 million fraud.
Carr, who has recommended a string of players to the club, told the Sun: “They probably will be in touch with me.
“I’m here and I’m not hiding anything.”
Carr said the raids had spoilt the club’s promotion back to the Premier League, saying: “It’s a sad day for Newcastle. It’s a bolt out of the blue.”
Officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs swooped on Newcastle and West Ham on Thursday morning in a co-ordinated operation with authorities in France.
They also visited Chelsea to gather information – although there was no similar raid at Stamford Bridge.
Charnley was among “several” people arrested by HMRC, which deployed 180 officers across the UK and France to search premises and seize documents, computers and mobile phones.
Organised crime was described as being at the centre of a suspected scam the French financial prosecutors’ office (PNF) confirmed related to suspected “tax fraud committed during several transfers of players between French clubs and in the Premier League”.
It said four people had been arrested and 10 searches carried out across France, with 32 investigators mobilised to work with what was believed to be a task force dedicated to Corsican gangs.
Police sources confirmed former European champions Marseille were the focus of ongoing inquiries, having already been the subject of a long-running probe.
“Organised criminal gangs are suspected of targeting senior club officials, agents and other parties,” said a source close to the investigation. “Marseille has done a lot of high-profile business with West Ham and Newcastle.”