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Irish taxman sings Blues

T HERE have been persistent grumblings in Europe about Ireland's 12.5 per cent rate of corporation tax. Even in the last week France reiterated its opposition, demanding that the rate be increased on foot of the European bail-out of this country.

The comparable rate in France is 33 per cent, while in Portugal it is 26.5 per cent, and the latter might explain how some of the proceeds of a number of high-profile multi-million euro football transfers have ended up in the Irish Exchequer.

A fascinating investigative series in The Guardian last week offered an insight into the world of so-called football super agent Jorge Mendes, the man behind Ronaldo's transfer to Manchester United and then Real Madrid and also Bebe's eye-catching transfer to Old Trafford last summer.

Mendes is currently being sued in Portugal by an English football agency which claims that arising from a partnership it entered into with Mendes, and his firm Gestifute, it is owed half of the €2.45m in agent's fees paid by Chelsea when they signed the trio of Ricardo Carvalho, Tiago and Paulo Ferreira.

The paper reported that the company's defence is that it received nothing for those transfers, and that the money had been paid to a company known as Gestifute International Limited.

According to documents lodged in the Companies Registration Office, Gestifute International Limited was registered in Ireland in May 2004. The transfers of the three players to Chelsea went through two months later and the company's accounts for that year show that in its first seven months had a tax charge of €211,000. Since then, up to December 2009, those elements of Mendes' football agency which are channelled through this Irish company generated close on €2m in tax.

Is it any wonder our friends in Europe don't like our corporation tax policy?


Sunday Indo Sport