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Cypriot football club linked to tax evasion scheme in Spain (Updated)

Several prominent football agents were reportedly arranging fake transfers through Cypriot football club Apollon Limassol allegedly to launder money and evade taxes, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Tuesday.

Among the people linked to the investigation is Fali Ramadani, the agent of several football stars around Europe, including Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic, Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Atletico Madrid’s Stefan Savic.

According to a statement released by the Spanish Civil Guard, the investigation is looking into widespread tax evasion and money laundering practices linked to fake football transfers.

“At least €10m were brought back into Spain through the purchase of luxury assets including real estate and yachts,” the statement said.

The agents were part of an organisation that made up fake transfers to inflate the price of players and avoid paying taxes in several countries, including Cyprus, Belgium, and Serbia.

Apollon was allegedly one of the key teams the agents used to carry out the ghost transfers.

The investigation, called “Operation Lanigan” dates back to 2017, when the Civil Guard found out that Ramadani, who controls Primus Consulting, one of the largest football management companies in the world, had acquired, along with other agents, a luxury apartment, a mansion, and land in Mallorca through a complex financial scheme to hide the true ownership.

Read also: Apollon named in report about questionable player ownership practice

Police found that Ramadani and other agents were part of a criminal organisation that allegedly controlled Apollon, along with other clubs in Belgium, and Serbia.

Thanks to the documents published on the Football Leaks website, which has uncovered countless irregularities in the sport in recent years, the investigators found out that the teams involved in the scheme were being used as a screen to make fake signings, through which the agents inflated the price of the players, therefore avoiding paying taxes.

The Spanish authorities are now calling for Europol to help them widen the investigation.

Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said on Wednesday he was aware of the report written by El Pais and intended to discuss it with the police.

“We will need to investigate the matter very carefully and, with the help of the police, we will get to the bottom of it,” he said.

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