Agent Mendes 'never advised players in tax matters'

Jorge Mendes arriving at court in Madrid to testify as part of the investigation of alleged tax fraud committed by Radamel Falcao.
Jorge Mendes arriving at court in Madrid to testify as part of the investigation of alleged tax fraud committed by Radamel Falcao.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Football super agent Jorge Mendes denied on Tuesday he helped to create shell companies for his clients during questioning by a Spanish court investigating alleged tax evasion by Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.

He told the closed-door hearing in Pozuelo de Alarcon - an upmarket suburb of Madrid where many football stars live - that he "never advised players in tax matters", his company Gestifute said in a statement.

"As an agent he is limited to representing athletes in their negotiations with clubs to determine salary conditions in their contracts," the statement added.

As Spanish authorities tighten the net around footballers such as Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, another Mendes client suspected of fiscal fraud, their advisers and agents are coming under scrutiny too.

Falcao is suspected of failing to correctly declare €5.6 million (S$8.82 million) of income earned from image rights between 2012 and 2013 while he was at Atletico Madrid.

The Colombian is accused of using a web of shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Colombia and Panama to avoid taxes on the image rights income.

The court notified Mendes during the hearing that he is charged with "suspicion of collaboration in the process" that led Falcao to "commit a tax offence", a judicial source told AFP.

Wearing a dark suit and black tie, the 51-year-old made no comments as he entered and left the court.

It is emerging that some of the clients of the man who has been elected "best agent of the year" several times at the Globe Soccer Awards are being targeted by tax fraud investigations.

Ronaldo himself, the world's highest paid athlete according to Forbes, is due to be questioned by a Spanish judge on July 31 after allegedly evading €14.7 million in taxes.

Fabio Coentrao, the Portugal international who also plays for Real, is suspected of having hidden close to €1.3 million in revenues.

And Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, another Mendes client, has been accused of failing to pay millions of euros in taxes during his time in charge of Real Madrid.

In this case though, Gestifute said Mourinho, who coached Madrid from 2010 to 2013, had resolved the situation with tax authorities.

Mendes found himself in the eye of the storm last year in the "Football Leaks" media investigation into alleged football corruption.

The investigation claimed he offered his clients ways to avoid paying taxes on some of the money they earned.

According to the EIC media consortium, he allegedly helped them evade a total of €185 million in advertising revenues "via a network of shell companies and offshore accounts in Ireland, in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Switzerland".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Agent Mendes 'never advised players in tax matters''. Print Edition | Subscribe