Jury retires in trial of football agent accused of sending threatening email

The jury in the trial of a football agent accused of sending a threatening email to a former Chelsea director demanding payment over the £29 million transfer of Kurt Zouma to West Ham has retired to consider its verdict.

Saif Alrubie, 45, who said he played a part in facilitating the transfer of the French defender in August 2021 for about £29 million, is said to have considered he was owed a percentage of the transfer amount and demanded payment from Marina Granovskaia, 49.

Alrubie has pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court to a charge of sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety.

The court has heard that in an email, the defendant allegedly implied that the then Chelsea director of football might “suffer the fate” of another agent, Kia Joorabchian, who claims he was accosted and intimidated by men demanding payment on behalf of Alrubie.

Saif Alrubie court case
Saif Alrubie is charged with sending Marina Granovskaia an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Prosecutor Arizuna Asante told jurors that Alrubie had “nothing at all to do with the deal” and had “no right to or credible expectation to” benefit from the transfer.

Mr Asante said: “It is then alleged that Mr Alrubie sent Ms Granovskaia an email threatening her on May 22 2022 that if the money was not paid, that is his commission, that she might suffer the fate of someone called Kia Joorabchian, who owed him money and did not pay in time.

“He (Mr Joorabchian) was allegedly accosted in a restaurant, an expensive watch taken from him, and thereafter in his office confronted by about a dozen men all at one time, effectively intimidating him into handing over bundles of cash in intervals until the money that was owed was paid off.”

Ms Granovskaia told jurors: “I felt threatened. Physically threatened. “Because of the language that was being used, because of the fact it was being made personal and because he referred to Kia’s incident.”

Alrubie has told the court that Ms Granovskaia was the “right hand” of Chelsea’s former owner, Roman Abramovich.

Giving evidence at his trial, Alrubie said that threatening someone with the “might” of the Russian businessman behind them would be a “suicide mission”.

He was asked about his reference to Mr Joorabchian in the email.

Alrubie told jurors that Ms Granovskaia “clearly lied to hide the true facts and nature of the transfer fee”.

He said his position is “a million per cent” that there was nothing in his email that could amount to a threat.

“There was no threat,” Alrubie said. “No threat made, no threat perceived, apart from the potential consequences of legal action.”

He added that he “never intended anything but” the threat of legal action.

The jury members were sent home to resume their deliberations on Monday at 10.30am.

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