Karim Benzema is witness in money laundering investigation as Mathieu Valbuena sex-tape scandal continues
UNDER-FIRE Karim Benzema has given evidence in a criminal investigation into a money laundering and drug trafficking gang.
French newspaper Liberation reports the Real Madrid striker was questioned as a witness by a Paris prosecutor last September.
He is already suspected of trying to blackmail fellow international Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape in a separate case.
A source close to former Lyon star confirmed that Benzema’s involvement was probed, but reiterated that the forward was a victim and had been “wronged”.
The source added: “He ended up being a shareholder in a restaurant and lost considerable amounts of money.”
The report claims that the magistrate, Renaud Van Ruymbeke, appears to have, so far, ruled out Benzema’s direct involvement in the case.
But the news will plunge the former Arsenal target’s participation in Euro 2016 even further into doubt.
Benzema — who has 81 caps for his country — was left out of the France squad for warm-up friendlies against Holland and Russia on Thursday afterFrench Prime Minister Manuel Valls appealed for him not to be recalled to Didier Deschamps side.
He has not been selected for Les Bleus since last October in the wake of the ongoing investigation involving team-mate Valbuena.
But a court restriction ordering Benzema not to have any contact with the Lyon midfielder was lifted last week, clearing the way for him to be included.
He denies trying to extort money from Valbuena and his partner — but faces a minimum of five years in prison if found guilty.
Benzema responded to his critics via Twitter on Tuesday, but did not address his off-field issues.
He wrote: “12 seasons I have been a professional: 541 matches played, 0 red cards, 11 yellow cards!!! And certain people question the example I set???”