Previously unpublished documents appear to lend a greater understanding than ever before of Manchester City's Argentine striker Carlos Tevez. His journey from "Fort Apache," the
Buenos Aires slum where he grew up, to his status as one of the world's most celebrated and highest paid players, and the part played by his representative, Kia Joorabchian, has been
one of the modern game's more intriguing narratives, explains David Conn.
The documents state that Tevez was ultimately owned by a fugitive Georgian oligarch, who later fled to London, and that joint ownership is now claimed by his partner, a Russian billionaire exiled in London and a sworn enemy of Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
At the age of 20, after Tevez joined the Brazilian club Corinthians from Argentina's Boca Juniors, the player's "economic rights" – his registration as a soccer player – were, according to the documents, sold to MSI, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, a secretive tax haven. At the same time Joorabchian was leading a fund, also called MSI, based in London, which said it had "a number of investors mainly based in Britain and Russia" and which financed Corinthians themselves.
Court and internal company documents seen by the Guardian assert that the owner and financial backer of MSI, which owned the rights to Tevez, was the Georgian billionaire oligarch Arkadi "Badri" Patarkatsishvili. A former car-industry executive, he emerged as one of the richest oligarchs from the Soviet Union's post-communism collapse, with interests in mining, cars, aerospace and media. He died in 2008, a fugitive in London, hounded by the authorities in Georgia and Russia.