English soccer clubs hit by tax raid, some arrested for suspected income and insurance fraud
Engglish soccer clubs were raided early on Wednesday morning by tax officials as part of a wide-sweeping probe, with several men arrested for suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.
British media were reporting that West Ham United and Newcastle United were targets of the investigation.
The London club did not immediately respond to requests for comment but issued a statement to local media, saying the club was “cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries”.
Newcastle initially made no comment but subsequently posted a brief statement on their website.
It said: “Newcastle United can confirm that a member of its staff has this morning been assisting HMRC with their inquiries. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
HMRC, the body responsible for United Kingdom’s tax collection, said: “180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today.”
“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the North East and South East of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.
“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.”
HMRC said French authorities were assisting the UK investigation, that they have made arrests and that several locations have been searched in France.
France’s financial prosecutor’s office said that 10 searches had been conducted there, four people had been detained and that documents had been seized.
It said in a statement that British authorities suspected that secret payments had been made to certain players, their agents or third parties to evade taxes during the transfer of players between French and Premier League clubs.