SoccerThursday, May 15, 2014
Brazil coach Scolari under investigation
Brazil’s World Cup coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is being suspected in Portugal of tax evasion and laundering money which has a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison.
LISBON, Portugal — Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is under criminal investigation in Portugal for suspected tax fraud and money laundering, according to US court documents.
Portuguese tax authorities suspect US$10.1 million that was transferred from Portugal to a bank in Miami between 2003 and 2008, when Scolari was coach of Portugal’s national team, were local income that the Brazilian did not declare.
Tax fraud and money laundering together carry a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison in Portugal, and the investigation is an unwelcome distraction for the Brazil coach as his country prepares to host the World Cup. The 65-year-old Scolari denied any wrongdoing after the court documents were first reported on Monday by OffshoreAlert, a Florida-based site specializing in fraud investigations.
“I have correctly filed all my tax returns. In all the countries where I’ve worked, I’ve always declared my income,” Scolari said in a statement. If anything is wrong, it’s not my fault. I hope justice gets to the bottom of the facts.”
Officials at the Portuguese Football Federation, which employed Scolari as national team coach, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Portuguese investigators want to know who were the “real beneficiaries” of numerous payments made into the Miami accounts over the six-year period.
The money went to accounts held by Netherlands-based Flamboyant Sports C.V., London-based Chaterella Investors Limited and Taliston Financial Corp., a British Virgin Islands company, according to prosecutors. Those companies owned, at various times, non-exclusive rights to the use of Scolari’s name, image and voice, they say. Transfers were also made to Miami accounts in the name of Scolari himself and of his son Leonardo.
The investigators suspect Scolari used those companies and bank accounts to hide income from the Portuguese tax authorities.
Scolari, who is Brazilian, led his country’s national team to the World Cup title in 2002. He will again coach the Brazilian team at this year’s World Cup. He has also coached in Japan and the Middle East. He was coach of Premier League club Chelsea between 2008-09.
Scolari was Portugal’s most successful national team coach. He guided the Portuguese to the final of the 2004 European Championship and to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. Along the way, he gave Cristiano Ronaldo his national team debut and made him captain.