Football

Offices of West Ham and Newcastle raided for suspected tax fraud

The offices of Newcastle and West Ham have been raided by tax officials as part of an Anglo-French investigation into a suspected £5 million (S$8.9m) fraud related to player transfers.

The coordinated raids, which included premises in France, took place yesterday morning.

Several men have been arrested, including Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley.

A spokesman for UK's Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said: "HMRC has arrested several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected £5m income tax and national insurance fraud.

"180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today. Investigators have searched a number of premises in the north-east and south-east of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.

"The French authorities are assisting the UK investigation, have made arrests and several locations have been searched in France.

"This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud, you can expect to face the consequences."

A West Ham spokesman confirmed that the club's offices at the London Stadium were raided by HMRC officers and said the Premier League side were " cooperating fully" with the investigation.

ARRESTED

There has been no official confirmation from Newcastle yet, although Press Association Sport understands St James' Park was raided and Charnley has been arrested.

The Hammers are 14th in the Premier League table, seven points above the relegation zone, after an eventful first season at the former Olympic stadium.

The 39-year-old Charnley became Newcastle's managing director three years ago, having quietly risen through the ranks at a club that have experienced considerable upheaval over the years.

Like his boss, club owner Mike Ashley, Charnley rarely speaks to the media, but has been credited for keeping manager Rafael Benitez at the club despite last season's relegation from the Premier League.

The news of the dramatic raids came barely 36 hours after Newcastle's return to the Premier League was confirmed with a 4-1 win over Preston North End on Monday.

HMRC officials also visited Chelsea yesterday, requesting information.

No items were seized.

PA Sport understands there is no allegation of wrongdoing by anyone associated with the Premier League leaders.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "In connection with its wider investigation, HMRC has requested certain information which the club will provide." - PA SPORT

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