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Tax service investigating professional football sector

© Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

Belgium’s Special Tax Inspection Service, ISI, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation in the professional football sector, l’Echo and De Tijd reported on Saturday.

So far, 57 investigations are under way into the transactions of clubs, agents and football players, l’ECHO learned from the Finance Department. The investigators’ focus is on accounting, bills and other relevant documents.

The authorities suspect large-scale tax fraud involving, among other things, illegal commissions paid to agents, hidden payments to trainers, coaches and players, and a host of suspicious fiscal arrangements, including abroad.

For confidentiality reasons, they have not mentioned the names of any of the clubs or individuals involved. However, according to information reaching l’Echo, almost all professional clubs are under scrutiny.

Next season, there will be 18 clubs in the first division and six in Division 1B, the former second division.

Investigators will look at records dating back seven years in the event of suspicions of fraud. Routine checks covering the last three years are also being conducted.

The current investigation is linked to the massive one conducted close to three years ago by the Justice Department into money laundering and fraud at the highest levels of Belgian football.

That investigation was dubbed “Operation Zéro” and, according to Finance Department sources, “most of the files now being handled by the ISI stem from that case.”

The Brussels Times