Finnish businessman still interested in Inter Milan despite Singapore troubles


FILE PHOTO: Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus is pictured in Singapore on January 27, 1995. Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus said on Thursday he remained interested in bidding for Italian soccer club Inter Milan despite a warrant for his arrest issued by police in Singapore that he described as "incomprehensible".

Singapore police on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for Zilliacus, a former CEO of Singaporean e-commerce firm Yuuzoo, and four other former Yuuzoo executives over alleged "misleading statements in the company's financial reports".

The police alleged that financial reports released by YuuZoo in 2015 and 2016 overstated the company's revenue by $4.6 million to $18.8 million.

Zilliacus told Reuters he had been cooperating with police in Singapore since investigations started in 2018, and described the arrest warrant as "incomprehensible".

"We sold technology and got shares in return for it, not money," he said, adding the investigation was about how the share value should have been calculated under Singapore's market rules.

"We used the best consultants you can imagine. We had a new business model so we wanted to make sure that we were reporting everything in full compliance," he said.

Zilliacus said he last communicated with police in Singapore on Feb. 15 about the case and remained available remotely but was unable to fly to Singapore because he was suffering from long-COVID.

Zilliacus, a former Asia head of technology company Nokia, last year pursued a potential deal for English soccer club Manchester United, before dropping out of the running to focus on Inter Milan.

He told Reuters he was still interested in a deal with the Italian club despite the arrest warrant.

Inter Milan's Chinese owner, Suning Holdings, last year denied a sale of the club was in the works.

Earlier this week, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Oaktree Capital Management was working to extend a 275 million euro ($298 million) loan to Inter Milan before it expires in May.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; Additional reporting by Xinghui Kok in Singapore; Editing by Mark Potter)

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