Farhad Moshiri has insisted his stake in Everton was bought with his own money after questions were asked about his link to Arsenal investor Alisher Usmanov.
Sunday night’s BBC Panorama programme was based on leaked documents known as the Paradise Papers and examined Russian Usmanov’s business relationship with Iranian-born Moshiri, the Toffees’ biggest shareholder.
The pair jointly held a 30 per cent stake in Arsenal before Moshiri sold his shares to Usmanov in February 2016. Moshiri subsequently purchased 49.9 per cent of Everton.
Panorama looked at whether an alleged Usmanov gift had financed Moshiri’s initial holding in Arsenal, and whether his wealth may have therefore been used to fund the Everton deal.
Premier League rules prevent anyone who holds at least 10 per cent of one club from having any shares in another.
The BBC programme asked Moshiri if the money he used to invest in Everton had originated with Usmanov. That is a claim which Moshiri strenuously denies.
“Of course it didn’t,” he said. “Not at all, no. It came from me. I had 10 per cent in a conglomerate way before I bought (into) Arsenal. That’s my money.”
He added: “A gift makes it yours. If it is a loan, you owe the money back to him; if it’s a gift it is yours.”
Asked which he has accepted, Moshiri said: “Neither, because I paid for it.”
Panorama quoted lawyers representing Usmanov as pointing to “errors of fact and interpretation” in the investigation, and denying he has any influence at Everton.
The Premier League is aware of Panorama’s investigation and explained its vetting procedures around the issue of club ownership.
The Premier League said: “We would not disclose confidential information about clubs or individuals but can explain our general rules and policies in this area.
“The Premier League has wide-ranging rules in the areas of club ownership and finance. These include prospective new owners having to meet the Premier League board and provide extensive detail on the sources and sufficiency of funding they have in place. They must also submit information on the financial structure of any proposed investment, and a business plan demonstrating that all liabilities can be met for at least 12 months ahead.
“The league prohibits any club owner or director from having an interest in another club, or the ability to influence another club’s policies. Should a prospective club owner have previously held shares in a different club, they must provide evidence that they have been divested. Only when these and many other rules have been applied, and due diligence completed, will the Premier League board allow an investment to proceed.”
Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson said on Twitter on Sunday night that he expected the Premier League to look at the Everton situation.
He said: “The @premierleague has very strict club ownership rules. I’m sure they’ll investigate whether their rules have been breached with this #ParadisePapers leak. I’ll be writing to them tomorrow.”
Press Association Sport has asked Everton and Arsenal for comment.
The Paradise Papers represent the biggest data leak since the Panama Papers release last year and have been analysed by almost 100 media organisations, including the BBC and the Guardian.
Hundreds of individuals and companies reportedly have their overseas investments exposed by the files, which are also said to reveal that major global companies have exploited offshore schemes to avoid tax.