I recently obtained interesting documents from a Florida court which outline further details of the investigation into tax evasion by people formerly associated with Portsmouth Football Club.
The investigation is part of ‘Operation Apprentice’ a long standing investigation into alleged football corruption. In 2007, then Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie was arrested — along with then manager Harry Redknapp, then club owner Milan Mandaric (now owner of Sheffield Wednesday), agent Willie McKay and former Portsmouth player Amdy Faye — over allegations of corruption. The five men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting.
Last year Redknapp, who is the current manager at Tottenham, was charged with “two counts of cheating the public revenue of an estimated £40,000 after voluntarily attending London’s Bishopsgate police station”. Redknapp has been touted as a successor to Fabio Capello as England football manager. According to The Independent:
Charges concerned two payments, totalling 295,000 US dollars, alleged to have been made from Mandaric to Redknapp via a bank account in Monaco, evading the tax and National Insurance contributions due between April 1, 2002 and November 28, 2007.
Mandaric, now chairman of Leicester, was charged with tax evasion relating to the payment of 295,000 US dollars to another person via a Monaco bank account, evading tax and National Insurance.
Storrie was charged with concealing a signing-on fee for ex-Portsmouth player Amdy Faye by paying it into the midfielder’s bank account.
The allegation related to the transfer of Faye from Auxerre to Fratton Park for £1.5million in August 2003.
For his part, Redknapp sought to have the case against him dismissed in November last year.
But according to these court documents, the Crown Prosecution Service sought the assistance of the US Department of Justice in September 2010 relating to the transfer of $295,000 from the Florida bank account of a company called First Star International to an account held by Redknapp in Monaco.
Also included in a list given by the CPS was one payment by “Rosie 47” of $207,433.73 on February 12, 2008 to Redknapp. This payment was two months after he was arrested in November 2007. The source of another lodgment in June 2002, for $145,000, is unclear.
The CPS requested US authorities to assist them in obtaining information from the bank used by First Star International – the City National Bank of Florida. According to the CPS letter:
When Milan Mandaric was questioned in relation to payments made to Henry Redknapp, he admitted that he had made one payment to him which was for an investment. He denied that he had used an off shore account to conceal payments upon which tax was payable. We have identified a pattern of offshore accounts being used to make payments to employees of Portsmouth Football club without accounting for the tax due on such payments.
You will note from the above table that two payments were made to Henry Redknapp from a company called First Star International. Internet searches have named Mandaric as a director of the company and that First Star International Inc is a company formed in California in 1988 and authorised to do business in Florida in 2001. We have identified the account number from an exhibit in our case which is an email sent from Mandaric’s solicitor to the Harry Radknapp’s solicitor requesting the repayment of a loan. The request states that the loan should be repaid to the account at First Star International and states the account number.
The company has a bank account at
City National Bank of Florida
Private Client Group
The CPS stated:
The further evidence that we are seeking is expected to prove that at the material time, Mr. Mandaric was the director of First International. This will in turn assist the prosecution show that he was for responsible for making/authorising payments to the account in Monaco held by Mr. Redknapp and that these payments are for services that have not been declared for tax purposes, rather than a one off payment for an investment opportunity as Mandaric has suggested when questioned.
As far as I am aware these documents are the subject of a court order by Southwark Crown Court and therefore the British media have been unable to publish stories about them. The documents are published below in full (thanks to Offshore Alert).