According to several national media outlets, the locations include the premises of the sports management companies (SADs) of Sporting de Braga and Vitoria de Guimarães.
Public prosecutors in Portugal are carrying out “about two dozen house and non-house searches” for evidence relating to suspected simulated deals between football clubs and third parties, worth around €15 million, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (DCIAP) said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the bureau, these include searches of the premises of sports corporations, companies and lawyers’ offices.
According to several media outlets, the locations include the premises of the sports management companies (SADs) of Sporting de Braga and Vitoria de Guimarães.
The official statement adds that the searches were ordered following analysis of material seized during searches conducted in March 2020, as part of the ‘Operation Offside’ probe and that “the facts under investigation are likely to include crimes of tax fraud, social security fraud and money laundering.”
“At stake are suspicions of simulated deals, entered into between football clubs and third parties, which aimed to conceal income from dependent employment, subject to declaration and withholding at source, for IRS [personal income tax], involving professional football players,” the DCIAP statement explains. “The amounts involved are believed to be around €15 million.”
Taking part in or overseeing the searches are an investigating magistrate, five public prosecutors, some 40 officers from the Tax Authority (AT) and 50 or so guards from the Tax Action Unit of the National Republican Guard (GNR).
Operation Offside on 4 March 2020 saw the constitution of 47 persons of interest – 23 individuals and 24 companies – after searches carried out at various entities linked to football.
Among the persons of interest are “football players, agents or intermediaries, lawyers and sports managers,” the office of Portugal’s attorney general said at the time, stressing that “at stake are suspicions of the practice of acts likely to constitute crimes of qualified tax fraud and money laundering.”
It said that the probe “is investigating professional football deals, carried out from 2015, which involved actions aimed at avoiding the payment of tax payments due to the Portuguese state, through the concealment or alteration of values and other acts inherent in these businesses that affect the determination of these payments.”
At the time, the SADs of Benfica, FC Porto, Sporting, Sporting de Braga and Vitoria de Guimaraes confirmed that searches had taken place in their premises, and stated their willingness to cooperate with the authorities.