Redknapp ‘received offshore bungs’

AT COURT Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court
AT COURT Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court

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FORMER Pompey manager Harry Redknapp used an offshore bank account to take bungs during his time at the club, a court heard.

The 64-year-old had a secret account in Monaco, opened in the name of Rosie47 - a combination of his pet dog’s name and the year he was born, prosecutor John Black QC said.

Redknapp - tipped as a future England boss - is alleged to have dodged taxes on two payments made in US dollars that worked out at about £100,000 each.

The Spurs boss is on trial at Southwark Crown Court along with former Portsmouth Football Club owner Milan Mandaric, 73.

Both men deny two counts of cheating the public revenue.

Opening the case yesterday Mr Black said they must have known they were avoiding taxes deliberately and dishonestly.

‘These payments were a bung or offshore bonus that the parties had absolutely no intention of paying taxes for,’ he said.

Mr Black said Redknapp was ‘no ordinary employee’ and gained ‘widespread popularity as a talented and successful football manager.’

‘He was, in short, unusually talented,’ said.

‘Talented and popular he might have been, the Crown say he was nevertheless a hard-headed businessman, with a financial acumen and pecuniary sense of his influence to his employers.’

Mr Black focused on the purchase of Peter Crouch for £1,250,000 before he was sold for £4.5 million.

The sale went through days after Redknapp’s change of roles meaning he was entitled to five per cent of the net profits rather than 10.

The prosecution says Redknapp instead received a secret payment from Mandaric into an account in Monaco.

Days after the transfer, Mr Black said, Redknapp flew to Monaco and opened an account to receive an ‘off-record payment’ from Mandaric

Mr Black said: ‘The account name appears to have combined the name of Harry Redknapp’s dog, Rosie, with the year of Harry Redknapp’s birth, 1947.

‘There’s no obvious reason why the account could not have been opened in the name of Harry Redknapp.’

He said both men had suggested the money in the account remained the property of Mandaric.

But he said there was documentation that made it clear the account was Redknapp’s.

In a letter from January 2008 Redknapp closed the account in Monaco and transferred 207,000 US dollars to his HSBC account in London.

Bonuses paid to Redknapp during his time at the club would total up to £500,000 depending on profits the club made on player transfers, Mr Black added.

The first charge alleges that between April 1, 2002 and November 28, 2007 Mandaric paid 145,000 US dollars into a bank account held by Redknapp in Monaco to avoid paying income tax and National Insurance.

The second charge for the same offence relates to a sum of 150,000 US dollars allegedly paid by Mandaric to the same account between May 1, 2004 and November 28, 2007.

Redknapp, of Panorama Drive, Poole, Dorset, led Portsmouth to FA Cup success before leaving in 2008.

Serbian Mandaric, of Stretton Hall, Oadby, Leicestershire, is now chairman of Sheffield Wednesday, having previously worked at Leicester City.

Mr Black said Redknapp and Mandaric had not mentioned the Monaco account during a civil investigation between January 2002 and October 2006 by the HMRC into an alleged payment from West Ham to Redknapp.

That investigation was looking into a £300,000 payment following the sale of Rio Ferdinand to Leeds United.

The Monaco bank account eventually came to light during an inquiry into illicit payments in football, led by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

The investigation, dubbed the Quest inquiry, was handed to the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore in July 2007.

In November the previous year, Redknapp had been interviewed as part of the investigation.

‘The existence of the offshore account was not disclosed and the payments were not declared,’ he said.

‘The first mention of Mr Redknapp’s offshore account from either defendant came in 2006, just days after the conclusion of the Revenue and Custom’s civil investigation.’

Mr Black said the jury would have to consider whether there had been ‘full and frank’ disclosure by Redknapp and Mandaric in relation to Redknapp’s Monaco account and the payments made into it.

He added: ‘It’s significant, the Crown suggest, that the bank account opened by Mr Redknapp in order to receive the monies from Mr Mandaric was located in an offshore tax haven.

‘The crown suggest that this was quite deliberate and was intended to obscure the money trial.’