herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

How the dog with a Monaco bank account led police to Harry’s secret £200k ‘bungs’

COURT: Prosecuters say wealthy football boss received offshore payments to avoid paying taxes

FOOTBALL manager Harry Redknapp allegedly flew to Monaco to set up a secret offshore bank account named after his pet dog Rosie.

The current Spurs boss then used the account to receive bungs of nearly £200,000 (¤240,000) and hide them from the taxman, a court in London has heard.

The court was told Mr Redknapp flew to the principality with its tradition of banking secrecy to obscure a money trail and “deliberately and dishonestly” received two large payments from the chairman of his then employers, Portsmouth.

The 64-year-old only revealed the existence of the secret account after the end of a separate two-year tax investigation into a £300,000 bonus paid to him after a transfer involving the former England captain Rio Ferdinand, the court heard.

Prosecuters claimed Mr Redknapp's “hard-headed business acumen” had seen him earn an annual salary of up to £500,000 and bonus payments of many hundreds of thousands more.

Mr Redknapp was named director of football at Portsmouth in 2001 and had a clause in his contract entitling him to 10pc of any profits made from the sale of players.

But when he was appointed manager in 2002, his contract was renegotiated and he only got 5pc, the court heard.

Days later the club agreed the sale of England striker Peter Crouch for £4.5m to Aston Villa, netting Mr Redknapp more than £115,000, half of what he could have earned under his old contract.

Mr Redknapp did not wait long before he took steps to get what he thought he was due, the prosecution claimed.

It is alleged that four days after the bonus was signed off by a senior executive, Mr Redknapp flew to Monaco to set up a private bank account under the name “Rosie 47”, which combined his dog's name with his date of birth, the court heard.

The owner and chairman of Portsmouth Football Club, Milan Mandaric, made payments to Mr Redknapp of $145,000 (£93,000) in June 2002 and $150,000 in April 2004, the court was told.

“These payments were a bung or offshore bonus that the parties had absolutely no intention of paying taxes for,” the prosecution said.

Mr Redknapp yesterday sat in the dock alongside Mr Mandaric (73). Both men deny two counts of tax evasion.

Redknapp's “widespread popularity” was singled out by the prosecution.

“He is currently enjoying what may be described as footballing success,” prosecuters said, referring to Tottenham's current standing as third in the Premier League.

The manager is “unusually talented” and “Harry Redknapp was, it goes without saying, no ordinary employee”.

The court heard Mr Redknapp's Monaco account was open for nearly six years, but had only four major transactions, including the two large payments made by Mr Mandaric.

In 2002, Mr Redknapp asked for about $100,000 to be transferred from the account to a Florida-based bank holding the account of First Star International Ltd.

It was alleged that the company operated as a personal account for Mr Mandaric, part-owner of the company.

The Monaco account was closed in January 2008, when Mr Redknapp asked for the balance of $207,000 to be transferred to his UK account.

The court was told that he never mentioned the account during the tax investigation from 2004 to 2006 into his finances.

That inquiry was into the Rio Ferdinand transfer deal from West Ham United – where Mr Redknapp was manager at the time – to Leeds United. The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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