Portuguese police raid clubs and agents in nationwide financial fraud probe

By Samindra Kunti

March 5 – Portuguese police have raided 76 addresses, including the home of super-agent Jorge Mendes, as part of a nationwide investigation into money laundering and tax evasion in 2015.  

The Portuguese attorney’s office confirmed that the searches were conducted as part of Operation Fora de Jogo (Operation Offside), which saw almost 300 tax and police inspectors from the public prosecutor’s office conduct nationwide searches, including at clubs Porto, Benfica, Sporting, Braga, Guimaraes, Marítimo, Estoril and Portimonense.

“As part of an investigation conducted by the public ministry of the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP) and whose investigation is in charge of the Tax and Customs Authority (AT), 76 searches are under way, including house searches, namely, in several football clubs, their societies and managers, law firms and intermediaries,” said the attorney’s office in a statement. “The investigation is likely to be part of the practice of crimes of qualified tax fraud and money laundering.”

“Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol SAD and its chairman of the board of directors confirm the search this morning of their facilities, reaffirming their total availability, as always, to collaborate with the authorities in clarifying all issues that may arise. be raised under this or any other process,” said Benfica in a statement.

As part of the investigation, two homes of Jorge Mendes and the offices of his agency Gestifute were searched. Authorities also targeted Carlos Osrio de Castro, Cristiano Ronaldo’s lawyer. Gestifute represents among others Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho. Mendes also serves as an advisor at Premier League club Wolves.

“The facts under investigation and which motivated the opening of the cases in question originated in several inspection procedures carried out since 2015 by the Tax and Customs Authority, and driven by it, based on the information available internally, within the scope of business related to the world of professional football,” continued the statement from the Portuguese tax authority.

Pressure on the financial integrity of agents and the in particular the player transfer business, is mounting worldwide. Last week, Spanish authorities charged football agent Abdilgafar Fali Ramadani and his associates with money laundering and offences against the public purse.

World federation FIFA has been keen on reshaping how agents operate, clamping down on both dual representation and agent fees, but those proposals have met strong resistance from the Association of Football Agents.

Emmanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of SIGA, said: “This should not be just about the individuals. I think what has happened in Portugal is happening in many countries where there is poor financial supervision and a lack of leadership that facilitates crime. It is a systemic problem for football.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1685362123labto1685362123ofdlr1685362123owedi1685362123sni@t1685362123catno1685362123c1685362123