London - Former Saracens star Chris Ashton on Monday defended his decision to invest in a property with the club's owner Nigel Wray.
Ashton was last week named in a leaked report into Saracens' financial misbehaviour after he bought a £1.4 million property, which Wray and another director paid 20 percent towards.
"The investment was completely separate to the rugby for me," Ashton told a BBC rugby podcast.
"Nigel was never involved in any negotiations of contracts or anything like that. I saw Nigel as a businessman outside of rugby that I went to see to get a loan, like I would from the bank.
"It was completely separate to my contract. Nigel likes property, he invests in property. He came along to the house to see it with me, we had a look round and he gave some thoughts on what we could do.
"I can completely understand why people are annoyed about it because it is a benefit that you don't get at other clubs. Now I do understand. I do see it. At the time, I didn't."
Premiership and European champions Saracens were fined £5.36 million and docked 35 league points for breaking the salary cap for the last three seasons.
Wray has stepped down as chairman and Saracens will be relegated at the end of the campaign.
Former England international Ashton played for Saracens for five seasons before leaving in 2017.
Now playing for Sale, Ashton said he has paid Wray back.
"We had a solicitors' drawn-up contract to say that Nigel owned his percentage of the house and when the house was sold he would receive all his money back. I've paid that back," he said.