Tax evasion scandal hits Argentine football
28 Aug 2012
Argentina’s national tax authority AFIP has suspended 146 football agents amid an investigation into potential tax evasion involving player transfers featuring clubs outside the country.
The AFIP has been investigating so-called irregular deals since the Argentine transfer window closed earlier this month and has also suspended a dozen players whose moves have come under suspicion. The organisation has written to Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona and FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter asking them not to approve such transfers. “This investigation is into the businessmen of football,” AFIP chief Ricardo Echegaray said, according to Reuters. “(The AFIP) suspended 146 footballer representatives and go-betweens with an irregular fiscal situation since they have not declared the corresponding commission charged for the operations they took part in.”
Echegaray said the AFIP has formed a system through which transfers have to be studied for their transparency before they are signed off. The organisation has also created a ‘Dynamic List of Sporting Fiscal Paradises’. This list will include all clubs involved in transfers where it can be proved that players neither emerged from their youth systems nor played for them for at least a season.
The tax evasion scandal has seen two controversial so-called three-way transfers highlighted in recent weeks. Jonathan Bottinelli joined newly-promoted Primera Division giant River Plate from fellow top flight team San Lorenzo during the close-season in a transfer involving Union San Felipe, a Chilean club the defender has never played for. Reuters reports that the transfer was for a fee of US$1.7 million to be deposited in an account in Miami, with the AFIP investigating an alleged account the Chilean club has in the Virgin Islands. Media reports said River Plate bought 60% of the player’s rights in Argentina, with the AFIP stating that it believed Bottinelli had become a free agent at the end of last season yet figured on the books of San Felipe, owned by Argentine investors. The other case involves midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who joined San Lorenzo from Italian club Lecce via Sud America of the Uruguayan second division, where he has never played.