Tax fraud probe targets dozens of Italian soccer clubs

Naples (Italy), Jan 27 (IANS/AKI) Italian tax police have seized assets worth 12 million euros from 58 individuals targeted by a probe into alleged tax evasion at dozens of clubs in the top three football divisions.

The assets included real estate, cash and clubs’ stakes and were impounded at the request of prosecutors in Naples spearheading the investigation of a total 64 people over an alleged tax fraud scheme.

Among those said to be under investigation are Aurelio De Laurentiis, the owner of Serie A leaders Napoli, Lazio owner Claudio Lotito, AC Milan director general Adriano Galliani, former Argentina international and Modena coach Herman Crespo, and Jean Claude Blanc, who manages Paris Saint-Germain.

Palermo owner Maurizio Zamparini, former Juventus president Jean Claude Blanc and former Parma presidents Tommaso Ghirardi are also allegedly being probed as well as several present and former Serie A players including Argentinian forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, along with Lazio agent Alessandro Moggi.

Suspected irregularities in the 2012 transfer of Lavezzi from Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain reportedly triggered the probe, which appears to involve 35 clubs in Serie A, Serie B and Lega Pro (the Italian third division).

Under the scam, footballers’ agents charge their fees entirely to the clubs instead of splitting them with the players, according to prosecutors.

The clubs then deducted the fees from their tax payments, while the “deep-rooted” system allowed players to avoid declaring ‘fringe benefits’ to the tax authorities, prosecutors said.

It also appears that some Argentine agents dodged taxation in Italy by using false documentation and setting up companies in tax havens.

Napoli and Modena declined to comment.

Lazio’s lawyer Gian Michele Gentile said: “We have no information about this – I learned about it from the press.”

Lazio and Atalanta both issued a statements denying wrongdoing and claiming they had “full faith” in the investigation.

–IANS/AKI

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