Tax evasion : the advisors of the footballers in the viewfinder of justice

The Spanish justice system is tackling tax evasion by footballers. Cristiano Ronaldo suspected, Lionel Messi condemned, Radamel Falcao continued… The european Commission wants to deter those who facilitate, such as the financial advisers of the players and some banks.

The european commissioner for economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, must propose on Wednesday a new directive against ” tax optimization “, the exploitation of legislative loopholes to pay the least tax possible. “We have done little so far to deter intermediaries who help clients avoid paying their fair share of taxes “, said the Agency France-Presse, a spokesman for the Commission.

It would require financial advisors to wealthy individuals or companies to declare to the tax authorities and transborder revenue that they offer to their clients. “The tax authorities will be better able to detect, and much earlier, the regulatory gaps,” explained the spokesperson.

Millions of the image

The commission does not particularly sporting, but Spain, where football is king, has put the spotlight on the complicated maneuvers of the stars of the football to escape the tax, including their rights to the image. In addition to their salary and bonuses for results, the greatest footballers ensure millions of additional income by lending their name and image for advertising campaigns, sports equipment for under-clothes, by way of the yogurt.

Argentine forward for FC Barcelona Lionel Messi has been sentenced to a fine of € 2.1 million for concealing the gains of his image rights through a string of shell companies, often established in tax havens. In confirming this conviction at the end of may, the Spanish supreme Court had rejected the argument of Messi by which he was unaware of the way in which his fortune was managed, but she was still amazed that its tax advisors have not been prosecuted.

In the case of the colombian striker of Monaco, Radamel Falcao, who is suspected of having hidden $ 5.6 million euros in image rights in tax Spanish when he was playing for Atlético Madrid in 2012 and 2013, its agent, the Portuguese Jorge Mendes, has been put in review. It must be heard on June 27 by a magistrate.

Mendes, one of the most influential personalities in the world of football, is also the agent of Ronaldo, who risk prosecution in Spain, the prosecutor’s office had been criticized on Tuesday with concealing more than 14 million euros to the tax authorities.

In the case of the star of Real Madrid. “If he is ultimately indicted, the judge should also ask to what extent the councillors and the officers are guilty,” said Carlos Cruzado, chairman of the union of tax officials Spanish Gestha, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse. But Spain is not the only country affected, to the image of the recent searches in France in the homes of Argentines Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore, as well as at the headquarters of their club, Paris SG, for questions similar.

Screen company for 500 euro

Athletes, like other taxpayers, are rarely experts in tax law and rely on intermediaries for help.

“When we talk about this type of board, it is not the advisor who helps you complete your income tax return, but of offices specialized in the installation of structures opaque, and many of them are international banks,” said Jose Mari Pelaez, inspector of finance, specialized in tax havens.

These offices can provide you with ” the full extent “, he continues. Without them, it would be very difficult to gain access to a tax haven. “But a phone call, and for 500 or 800 euros, an office of this kind you ascends one or two companies-screens with a bank account in Switzerland or another fiscal paradise. It takes two or three days and it does not cost almost nothing. ”

He recalls that many of the 175 000 offshore corporations registered in the Bahamas, a tax haven, between 1959 and 2016, and unveiled last year by the international Consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ), had been created by banks.

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