Officers from Portugal’s tax and customs authority conducted more than 20 searches on Wednesday in connection with its investigation into tax evasion and money laundering at top-flight clubs, as well as the super-agent Jorge Mendes.
The headquarters of Primeira Liga sides Braga and Vitória de Guimarães were searched, as was the Porto office of the Gestifute player agency that was established by Mendes. The homes and offices of Deco, the former Portugal midfielder who now works as an agent, and businessman Bruno Macedo were also reported to have been searched in the latest stage of Operation Fora de Jogo (Operation Offside).
“The facts under investigation are likely to include crimes of tax fraud, social security fraud and money laundering,” read a statement from the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP). “There is suspicion of simulated business, entered into between football clubs and third parties, which had in view the concealment of income from dependent work, subject to declaration and withholding tax.”
As well as Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Gestifute represents José Mourinho and several members of the Wolves squad, where Mendes also acts as an adviser to the club and to its owner, the Chinese conglomerate Fosun. He has yet to comment on Wednesday’s developments.
In March 2020, almost 300 tax and police inspectors from the public prosecutor’s office conducted 76 searches in the first stage of Operation Fora de Jogo, including the offices of Gestifute and two homes owned by Mendes. It was claimed authorities were looking into potential money laundering relating to the transfers of players including Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguez and Iker Casillas acting on information disclosed by Football Leaks, although Porto denied anyone at the club had been questioned. According to Portuguese magazine Sabado, the homes of Casillas, Jackson Martínez, Maxi Pereira and Danilo Pereira were also searched.
On Monday, as part of a separate investigation by the public prosecutor’s office called “Operation Red Card”, officers looking into the payment of commissions exceeding €20m related to football transfers searched the headquarters of FC Porto and its president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa.
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