Mexico to seize soccer club Gallos amid Citi probe -official

MEXICO CITY, March 4 Tue Mar 4, 2014 9:20pm EST

MEXICO CITY, March 4 (Reuters) - Mexico's government will take control of first division soccer club Gallos Blancos de Queretaro, whose owner is the chief executive of a company at the center of a money-laundering probe involving Citigroup's Mexican subsidiary, a high-ranking government official said on Tuesday.

Mexican authorities are investigating oil services company Oceanografia after Citigroup said on Friday it had discovered at least $400 million in fraudulent loans at its Mexican subsidiary, Banamex.

Banamex made the loans to Oceanografia on the basis of payments due for services provided to Mexican state-owned oil company Pemex. The Mexican government has said it is investigating Oceanografia for money laundering.

The chief executive of Oceanografia is the owner of the Gallos Blancos.

"Queretaro will be taken control of, I'm not sure when, but it will be taken control of," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government has already taken control of Oceanografia, and may have to take out a bank loan to keep the company afloat to keep paying a staff of around 11,000 people, the official said.

A U.S. federal grand jury is probing Citigroup, including its Banamex USA affiliate, over compliance with the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and regulations on money laundering, the company said.

Gallos Blancos de Queretaro currently lie 13th among the 18 teams in the Clausura tournament in Mexico.