Newcastle United’s managing director Lee Charnley was arrested yesterday evening along with “several men working within the professional football industry” in connection with a suspected £5 million income tax and National Insurance fraud. Offices at the club and at West Ham United were also raided by the taxman. Premises in France were also subject to similar search and seize operations.
180 tax officers from the UK’s Fraud Investigation Service and France’s tax authorities swooped on targets in the UK and France, seizing computers, mobile phones and documents: and arresting several men: thought to include some football agents. Lee Charnley, the MD at St James’ Park, was amongst them. The raids included about 50 tax inspectors at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium, accompanied by police and armed with search warrants.
HMRC said: “HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today. Investigators have searched premises in the north east and south east of England, and has arrested several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected £5 million income tax and National Insurance fraud – and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones. The French authorities are assisting the UK and have made arrests, and several locations have been searched in France. This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences”.
In January, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee announced that HM Revenue & Customs were investigating 43 footballers, 8 agents and 12 clubs over tax underpaid through image rights arrangements.
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