Mandaric to finish giving evidence before Redknapp takes the stand

TAX CHARGE Milan Mandaric
TAX CHARGE Milan Mandaric

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MILAN Mandaric has started giving evidence for the third day at his and Harry Redknapp’s trial over alleged tax evasion today.

The former Pompey chairman is being questioned by John Black QC for the prosecution.

Asked if he made a profit when he sold the club Mandaric told the jury at Southwark Crown Court: ‘Yes there was a modest profit.’

Prosecutors allege Redknapp, 64, received ‘bungs’ of £187,000 from Mandaric, during their time at the club.

It is alleged the money was paid into a Monaco bank account, opened by Redknapp under the code name ‘Rosie 47’ - a combination of his dog’s name and the year of his birth.

Earlier this week Mandaric told the court the two payments, of $145,000 in 2002 and $150,000 in 2004 were not bungs but loans to get Redknapp started in investing.

The 73-year-old described the allegations as an insult to him and the fans of Pompey.

The prosecution claim the two payments were given as a bonus for the profit from the sale of striker Peter Crouch and for getting the club into the Premier League.

Redknapp, of Panorama Drive, Poole, Dorset and Mandaric of Stretton Hall, Oadby, Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue during their time at Portsmouth.

Mandaric said: ‘All payments made through the club according to the contracts, according to the commitments of the club.

‘If the club owes the money to the person for bonuses, whatever, and the club don’t have the money I would put money into the club.’

Asked if the money was a personal gesture he said: ‘I have said it over and over because that’s the only one truth.

‘This money has got nothing to do with anything else.

‘A friendship developed over and above football.

‘This is something I wanted to do for my friend. Any relation with anything else is wrong.’

The court has heard Redknapp told a reporter the first payment was a bonus for the profit from the sale of Peter Crouch.

Asked about that he said: ‘In that regard I told Harry, “Harry you don’t have 10 per cent now, you are manager not director of football”.

‘I clearly told him from day one that that was the case.’

Asked if he had told Redknapp he would sort out the dispute over the bonus on the Crouch deal Mandaric said: ‘I could but I can’t recall that.

‘It was 10 years ago and 10 years ago I had a lot of different conversations with Harry.’

He said that with all his business experience he would have had to have ‘gone crazy’ to try to cheat HMRC.

Asked if the two payments were bonuses for Redknapp’s work at the club he said: ‘Absolutely not. He was well paid. His contract was valued at millions of pounds.’

The court has heard Redknapp’s accountant wrote to Mandaric asking what the money in the Monaco account was for.

Asked why he didn’t tell him he said: ‘I didn’t really feel that I wanted to get involved in detail and talk to him about what was done between Harry and me.

‘I was a busy man, I had other things to do.’

Mandaric insists the two payments were seed money to get Redknapp started with investing.

He was asked if the second payment, which came shortly after Pompey beat Man United in the 03-04 season, was for Redknapp’s success.

Asked about the win over Man U he said: ‘We were the better team with the better manager.’

Asked if he was pleased with his manager he said: ‘How can I not be?’

‘His biggest success was taking the club into the Premier League.

‘It (Redknapp’s success) has got nothing to do with it.

‘For God’s sake he has got a contract earning over £4m. For me to go to Monaco to right a cheque for $150,000, it would be insulting to Harry.’

Mandaric said he left Pompey in September 2006 and joined Leicester in 2007.

‘He (Redknapp) was still in Portsmouth when I went to Leicester, he didn’t want to come to Leicester with me,’ he said.

He said: ‘One day when I leave this country I am going to go with pride back to America.

‘On the other side I am going back with a sadness at the unrepairable damage to my family and myself and I ask myself quite often, why?’

When Mr Black said the truth was that the payments were bonuses he said: ‘That’s not the truth, it’s got nothing to do with the truth.

‘The truth is the one I told you.

‘People that know me they can’t believe that I have to go through this.

‘Being here is not something I deserve but I have to go through this and hopefully one day we will forget it.’

The court heard that in March, 2004, Redknapp signed a new contract taking his annual pay from £3.025m to £4.2m.

He was asked by Lord Ken Macdonald QC if he thought Redknapp needed another $150,000 - the size of the second payment.

Mandaric said: ‘I don’t think so.

‘I don’t think that would change Harry’s life or change my life, absolutely not.

‘It was never related to what he has done in Portsmouth as a manager there.’

Mandaric has now finished giving evidence.

(Proceeding)