KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Representatives of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho have denied allegations in European news magazines and newspapers that they are among a number of football personalities involved in dubious tax avoidance schemes.
The Real Madrid superstar and Manchester United manager are the highest-profile personalities named by European media outlets which have published what are claimed to be leaked details of tax avoidance arrangements made by several top players and coaches
Media outlets, which include German weekly Der Spiegel and Spanish daily El Mundo, quote documents provided by the website Football Leaks, which has claimed that some players and coaches made transactions that could suggest financial impropriety.
European Investigative Collaborations has said it intends to publish further reports over the next three weeks.
In the meantime an injunction sought by Ronaldo’s lawyers has prompted a Spanish judge to bar El Mundo from publishing anything about the issue under threat of a five-year jail term to its editor for possible breach of a confidentiality order concerning a massive hacking raid.
Spiegel claims that Ronaldo could have invested €150m in tax havens in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands on which he “paid only €5.6m in taxes or barely 4pc.”
The reports cite two operations related to promotional revenue. The first, between 2009 and 2014, could represent “€74.8m via an offshore company called Tollin, registered in the British Virgin Islands. He would have eventually declared a part of it.”
In the second operation, Ronaldo could have “€31m of taxes” according to these newspapers, making the most of “12 days of an ultra-advantageous tax regime” on his marketing rights for the period 2015-2020.
Mourinho is said – again via a scheme devised by Mendes – to have placed €12m “in a Swiss account owned by a British Virgin Islands company”. The leaked documents relate to the time that Mourinho spent as manager of Real Madrid, between 2010, and 2013, acccording to El Mundo.
Other players mentioned included the Arsenal and German midfielder Mesut Ozil as well as Monaco’s Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.
The company of Ronaldo and Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes, denied any wrongdoing by his clients.
A statement from Gestifute said: “Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho are in compliance with their fiscal obligations in Spain and in the United Kingdom. Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho have never been involved in any legal process related to any fiscal crime.”
It added that it would take legal action against “any insinuation or accusation of that nature related” to Ronaldo or Mourinho.
El Mundo has reported that Spain’s tax authorities have been investigating some of Mendes’s clients for some time.
Barca court troubles
Many top players in Spain have fallen foul of the tax authorities recently, including Barcelona stars Neymar and Lionel Messi.
In July, Messi and his father were sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud, although they were not sent to jail because sentences of less than two years for first offences are usually suspended in Spain.
Neymar and his father are each facing a two-year prison sentence and a $10.6 million fine on corruption charges related to alleged irregularities during his transfer from Brazilian club Santos to Barcelona in 2013. They have denied wrongdoing.
In June, Barcelona paid a fine of $5.8 million in a separate case after acknowledging to the local tax authority they made “an error in the fiscal planning of the player’s transfer.”
Last month, Spanish prosecutors said they are seeking a prison term of more than 10 years for former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o for alleged tax crimes committed when he played for the Catalan club.
Also this year, Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano was handed a suspended one-year sentence for tax fraud, and former defender Adriano was also charged with tax irregularities.
In March 2016, a number of different companies connected to the world of sports were victims of a cyberattack in several European countries, including Spain.
As a result of this, some of the companies complained to the Spanish Court of Justice. The Spanish Court has made an order prohibiting the publication of information obtained as a result of the cyberattack since it constituted a criminal offense.
This investigation is subject to secrecy, so no further information about the investigation can be revealed.
After more than eight months since the attack, in the past weeks Gestifute, its clients, advisors and other entities related to Gestifute have received detailed enquiries from various media organizations which are all members of a pan-European consortium.
The tone used in the various questionnaires that were received is insidious, disrespectful, threatening and a far cry from the most basic standards of journalism’s best practices.
Particularly, a newspaper, which was initially not part of the consortium and which, according to the prohibitions ordered by the Spanish Court, claims to work alongside with it, has become a necessary cooperator of the referred consortium in order to try to attack the interests of Gestifute and those of its clients, thus trying to avoid its alleged legal responsibilities in the dissemination of manipulated, distorted, biased and stolen information.
One newspaper makes the unfounded allegation that Gestifute, its clients and its advisers of having, directly or indirectly, created, organized or designed tax structures to facilitate tax evasion using tax havens. The most serious and malicious allegations in the enquiries relate to José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Furthermore, today news have come out insinuating a reprehensible conduct by Cristiano Ronaldo and questioning his good name.
In this regard, Gestifute publicly states that:
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho are fully compliant with their tax obligations with the Spanish and British tax authorities.
Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor José Mourinho have ever been involved in legal proceedings regarding the commission of a tax offense.
Any insinuation or accusation made to Cristiano Ronaldo or José Mourinho over the commission of a tax offense will be reported to the legal authorities and prosecuted.
In addition, Gestifute publicly states that:
We always act with the highest level of professionalism in our relationships with our clients and the authorities in all those countries in which we operate.
Our goal as a company is to provide the best advice to our clients, always within the framework of the applicable law at the time in each country we operate.
European tax authorities have different criteria in terms of image rights and foreign clients are often affected by these differences, which they respect and abide by. In any cases in which there have been disagreements with the respective authorities on the tax criteria to be applied, these have always been resolved by agreement with the authorities without legal proceedings ever being necessary.
We will not hesitate to take legal action to defend ourselves and our clients over any untrue and unlawful allegations published about us.