Intermediary in the transfer of Emiliano Sala in 2019 from FC Nantes to Cardiff City, Baba Dramé has been questioned by investigators, according to L’Équipe.
Dramé is an ex-collaborator with Willie McKay, who was the mastermind behind Sala’s transfer and is accused of manslaughter, being responsible for setting up the travel which broke regulations and resulted in the Argentine striker’s death.
French investigators are continuing their enquiries and heard Dramé at the end of spring by the Nantes police, as part of a preliminary enquiry launched by Nantes prosecutors on potential charges of “illegal acts as a sporting agent” and “illegal use of aerial transport.”
Dramé was working with Willie McKay, who participated in the Sala deal without an agent licence alongside his son Mark, who had a mandate from FC Nantes to sell the player, via his agency Mercato Sports Limited.
The investigators also interviewed Cardiff City President Mehmet Dalman in September 2020.
Contacted by the newspaper, Dramé confirmed that he was questioned, in an event that lasted for about an hour:
“There are no charges against me. I do not feel that I am under investigation. I was asked questions about what I know about this tragic event. It was very formal. They wanted clarifications.”
Dramé was mentioned by Willie McKay during the Englishman’s interview with L’Équipe which occurred one week after Sala’s disappearance: “Baba Dramé works for me, I have faith in him,” McKay said.
McKay claims that a 10% commission on the transfer was due to be received by his son Mark (€1.7m), after he was mandated by Nantes. Willie further claimed that a part of this commission was then due to be transferred to Dramé and Bakari Sanogo, another agent.
“It was Sanogo who connected me with Waldemar Kita,” McKay said at the time.
Police sources indicate that Sanogo has yet to be questioned as part of the investigation.
Over the last 2.5 years, Dramé was reticent to speak publicly on the matter:
“I was doing very badly, I was very affected by this event, then I learned to live with it. I did not want to speak, out of respect for his family. But I also think of my own, who have been living with difficulty through this challenge… It was me who spoke of Emiliano Sala to Willie McKay. He made me a request, I made a suggestion in this direction and I suggested him the player.”
Since the death of Sala, Dramé insists that he has not worked with either of the McKays (Willie and Mark).
On the subject of the tragic accident itself between Nantes and Cardiff, Dramé explained that he “was not aware that he was taking a flight that day [and was] not involved” in the organisation of the flight:
“I just suggested the player then there was this accident that nobody could have anticipated.”
FC Nantes have repeated on several occasions that they had no role in the fatal flight, denouncing Cardiff’s attempts to weaponise this tragedy by refusing to make transfer payments.
One of the investigations that had been underway in the Sala affair, one into “manslaughter” has been closed by the Nantes prosecutors office, because a separate investigation into this is being conducted by authorities in Great Britain.
Investigators in Dorset, led by senior coroner Rachael Griffin, are due to conclude their pre-inquest review which began two years ago on February 14th next year. On September 8th, relevant parties will be brought together to ensure that investigators have all the necessary information to hold the final relevant hearings.
In the meantime, the trial of pilot David Henderson, who was supposed to be flying the Piper Malibu that disappeared over the English Channel before contravening the law by entrusting the flight to David Ibbotson, is due to begin on October 18th. Henderson is being prosecuted for endangering the safety of an aircraft as well as other charges relating to disembark a passenger without valid authorisation. Henderson pleaded not guilty to all charges on October 2020 before Cardiff Crown Court.