Newcastle United have been accused of making “secret” payments to agents and players including in the transfer of Demba Ba.
A report in the Mirror this morning reveals the Tyneside club are fighting accusations the club “systematically abused” the tax system.
A court heard yesterday that HM Revenue and Customs are investigating striker Ba’s transfer to Newcastle from West Ham.
Evidence submitted to the High Court at Leeds, claimed: “It appears NUFC paid agent’s fees for services of £1.9m in full knowledge that the majority would be passed on to other agents… and to a company associated with the player”.
The HMRC said they were “further suspicions” arising out of Ba’s transfer to Chelsea in January 2013.
HMRC said it believed: “NUFC systematically abused the tax system… and all payments to agents made were potentially the subject of criminal proceedings”.
HMRC’s Operation Loom is looking into whether the club knew payments to agents were being “secretly” funnelled to other unlicensed agents and players themselves in a bid to circumvent income tax and National Insurance.
Newcastle were raided in April by the HMRC with business and financial record seized, and MD Lee Charnley one of several people arrested and later released without charge.
Wst Ham’s London Stadium was also raided as part of the investigation in April of this year.
The allegations emerged as Newcastle argued there was no reasonable grounds for believing it had engaged in tax fraud, challenging the legality of the search-and-seize orders.
Judges ruled search warrants were “lawfully issued.”
HMRC argued reasonable grounds existed for believing Newcastle United was ‘’knowingly involved’’ in a multimillion-pound tax fraud.
A spokesman for HMRC said: “We are very pleased with the court’s decision which we are studying in detail. We do not comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations.”
Newcastle United said in a statement: “We are disappointed with this decision given the court’s findings.
“We are considering all of our options with our advisers, including whether to pursue an appeal.”