Star duo's contracts are legal, insists PSG

French investigators raided the home of PSG's Angel di Maria, who is alleged to have pocketed millions through offshore transactions.
French investigators raided the home of PSG's Angel di Maria, who is alleged to have pocketed millions through offshore transactions.PHOTO: REUTERS

Di Maria, Pastore are being investigated for the use of offshore tax havens to hide earnings

PARIS • Investigators raided the headquarters of Paris Saint-Germain and the homes of the French football club's Argentinian players Angel di Maria and Javier Pastore on Tuesday in a tax fraud probe.

French prosecutors launched the probe in December following revelations by the Football Leaks website concerning financial transactions and other details involving top football players.

Di Maria and Pastore are being investigated in connection with the probe into the use of tax havens to hide earnings from the marketing of image rights.

The Paris head office of PSG as well as their administrative offices were raided.

According to news website Mediapart, the raids were the first in connection with the tax evasion allegations contained in the leaks published by Mediapart along with a consortium of media outlets known as European Investigative Collaborations.

The paper alleged that di Maria and Pastore pocketed millions through offshore transactions.

According to Mediapart, PSG signed a contract with an offshore company in Panama through which they allegedly took a share of the players' earnings, although the club told the paper they had never received a commission from any tax haven company.

But PSG insisted the contracts of Pastore and di Maria "were concluded in perfectly regular conditions".

"Paris Saint-Germain have handed over information and documents asked of it on the subject of two of its players," the club said.

The raids come just days before PSG play their final match of the season - a French Cup final against Angers at Stade de France.

The final could be a crucial game for coach Unai Emery, with the club losing their league title to Monaco.

They won the League Cup trophy and the French Champions Trophy - minor triumphs for a club of PSG's stature.

But they suffered humiliation in the Champions League with Barcelona turning around a 4-0 first-leg defeat in the round of 16 to win 6-1 at the Nou Camp.

Earlier on Tuesday, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell was arrested in a money-laundering investigation related to the sale of the Brazilian national football team's television rights.

The authorities suspect Rosell and the former head of the Brazilian football federation, Ricardo Teixeira, of having siphoned off €15 million (S$23.3 million) over the years, according to a source close to the investigation.

The authorities suspect the money was moved from Brazil to a Swiss bank account, and from there to a company owned by Rosell in Andorra, a tiny principality considered a tax haven.

Rosell, 53, was manager of sporting goods giant Nike in Brazil before taking over as president of Barcelona in 2010.

Teixeira stepped down as head of the Brazilian football federation in 2012 amid corruption allegations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'Star duo's contracts are legal, insists PSG'. Print Edition | Subscribe