A Paris court on Friday examined alleged suspicious transfers carried out by French club Paris Saint Germain over a decade ago which included former France international Nicolas Anelka and Nigerian Godwin Okpara.
PSG, along with former club presidents Laurent Perpere and Francis Graille, and sportswear giant Nike are being investigated for alleged under-the-table payments to players in order to avoid taxes between 2000 and 2005.
It was claimed that faced with competition from other European clubs and heavy social charges which had to be paid by French employers, PSG had resorted to tax evasion in a bid to reduce their costs.
When Okpara signed from Strasbourg in 1999, it was claimed that Perpere, signed two agreements for 3 million francs (about 450,000 euros), one with the player's agent and another with a Nigerian lawyer, who subsequently lodged part of the sum in a Belgium bank account for the defender's wife.
"In football, the intermediary can be an agent, a lawyer or a member of the player's family. These agreements didn't seem shocking to me at the time," said Perpere.
Anelka, who now plays for Chinese football club Shanghai Shenhua, returned to the Paris club where the striker started his career from Real Madrid in 2000 in a deal worth 244 million franc (about 37 million euros).
The court heard that this sum had been overvalued by about 10 percent to include payments to Anelka's brothers and agents as well as a bonus for the player himself.
"We were forced to pay otherwise there would have been no transfer," said Perpere.
"It's not a false contract. The player is like an artist, he's a rare commodity.
"Anelka was an absolute football star at this time, his return to PSG was very important," Perpere told the court, adding that the player's brothers "are known as extremely greedy and enjoying the reputation of Anelka to make a lot of money".
The hearing continues next Wednesday.