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#FootballLeaks: Yet another tax scandal underlines need for tax reform #EICFootball




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161203ronaldo2According to information obtained by the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) consortium, several big football stars, including player Cristiano Ronaldo and manager José Mourinho, may have avoided large sums of tax through the use of tax havens, writes Catherine Feore.

The 1.9 Terabytes  of data includes 18.6 million documents, including original contracts with secret subsidiary agreements, emails, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and photos. The data set extends into 2016. EIC partners will publish their findings in the coming weeks, offering an unprecedented look into the complexity of tax arrangements linked to image rights and general tax avoiding (and possible evasion) in football. The journalists estimate that the possible evasion could amount to as much as €31 million in taxes.

According to one of the consortium members The Black Sea (an award-winning  multimedia platform that investigates subjects of relevance to the Black Sea region), more than 60 journalists in 14 countries are involved in the project, working for more than seven months to reveal corruption among top officials, clubs, agents and players.

Round up the usual suspects

Complicated tax codes, tax lawyers, Irish shell companies, British Virgin Island shell companies, Swiss banks and rich business middle men, they’re all here again.

Green economic and finance spokesperson and member of the European Parliament’s inquiry committee on the Panama Papers Molly Scott Cato said, “It is no surprise to see that a company used in this deal is located in Ireland given their extremely low rate of corporate tax (12.5%). We need to bring an end to the race to the bottom on taxes, which is why the Greens have been calling for an EU-wide minimum rate of tax.

“The European Commission and Council must also take action. It is ridiculous to pretend that tax havens only exist outside the EU when scandal after scandal implicates Member States such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The EU is currently screening third countries in order to establish a tax blacklist next year: we must look closer to home and apply the same criteria to member states.”


El Mundo

The firm at the centre of the leaks, Senn Ferrero, applied successfully for a court injunction to protect the stolen data of its clients from being published in El Mundo . However, other members of the consortium, such as Le Soir (Belgium) and Der Spiegel (Germany) have been able published some of their initial findings.

Madrid judge Arturo Zamarriego threatened the El Mundo Director, Pedro G. Cuartango, with up to five years' imprisonment should he publish information linked to the data leak. El Mundo argue that there is a clear public interest in publishing their story, a point of view that is defended by the Spanish ‘Platform for the Defense of Freedom of Information’ who issued a statement supporting the newspaper and calling the injunction a "serious attack on freedom of the press".

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