UPDATE: Mandaric says Redknapp is ‘a special friend and a special person’

TAX CHARGE Milan Mandaric
TAX CHARGE Milan Mandaric
Holiday Inn Express, Farlington

Farlington’s Holiday Inn Express facing action after serving alcohol to 16-year-olds

0
Have your say

FORMER Pompey owner Milan Mandaric has sung the praises of his old manager Harry Redknapp during their trial for tax evasion.

Mandaric’s barrister Lord Ken Macdonald QC has opened the case for the defence.

Prosecutors allege Redknapp, 64, received ‘bungs’ of £187,000 from Mandaric, the former Portsmouth chairman, during his time as manager of the club.

This was then paid into a secret Monaco-based HSBC bank account opened under the code name ‘Rosie 47’ — a combination of his dog’s name and his birth year — to avoid paying tax, the crown say.

Both men deny any wrong-doing.

Giving evidence, Mandaric spoke about his upbringing and how he went to work at his dad’s company in Yugoslavia.

He said: ‘I was young, ambitious and wanted to do more for my family, myself.

‘I was going to go outside of the country trying to find more possibilities.’

He told the jury he moved to California and started working.

He said he and two friends started making circuit boards.

He then started Lika Corporation, named after his home village, at the start of the silicon valley boom.

‘I was at the right place at the right time,’ he said.

He sold the company in 1980 for ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’.

‘It was quite a good deal for me and my other shareholders,’ he said.

Mandaric said: ‘I was a young talented player but my father didn’t let me play football, he wanted me to be a mechanic.

‘Later I always played as much as I could. When I was able to afford it I got involved financially in the game.’

He started with a team in the MLS then bought Standard Leige in Belgium which he sold before buying Nice in 1996.

At that point he was living in Monaco and Lord Ken Macdonald, defending, asked if he had a Monaco bank account.

‘Of course, I was resident of Monaco, I opened an account,’ he said.

Asked about time in America he said he knew players like Bobby Moore and George Best and he heard of Harry Redknapp.

After selling Nice he said a friend suggested he buy Portsmouth.

‘When they asked me in 1999 to come over they were in difficulties.

‘They were ready to close.’

Asked about his time at Pompey he said: ‘It was tremendous, good positive.

‘From the day I arrived I only said one thing, ‘trust me to let me give them my experience in business, to support the club as much as possible.

‘I told them I would stay there until I made a success of their club.’

Asked about the people of Portsmouth he said: ‘I love the city and I love football.

‘I think if I look back there was a love affair of football with those people in that city.

‘I really have tremendous respect for them. I think they are hard working people, not rich but hard working people, very proud people.

‘They love their club, there’s undivided loyalty there.’

Mandaric said he had never been as close to a manager as Redknapp.

‘We just developed friendship,’ he said.

‘We extended our friendship over and above our football business.

‘Harry would hang up on something that he wanted to do, it wasn’t necessarily the most important thing but that’s what he wanted but overall he was a special guy.

‘He was a special manager. He was a capable and talented manager but above all for me he was a special friend and a special person.’

Asked about getting the club to the Premier League he said: ‘It was a dream for me.

‘It was a goal that was something that I desperately wanted to achieve for those wonderful people in Portsmouth.’

Asked about when Redknapp went to Southampton he said: ‘He made a mistake going there which I don’t think he enjoyed very much.’

Mandaric said he had never been as close to a manager as Redknapp.

‘We just developed friendship,’ he said.

‘We extended our friendship over and above our football business.

‘Harry would hang up on something that he wanted to do, it wasn’t necessarily the most important thing but that’s what he wanted but overall he was a special guy.

‘He was a special manager. He was a capable and talented manager but above all for me he was a special friend and a special person.’

Asked about getting the club to the Premier League he said: ‘It was a dream for me.

‘It was a goal that was something that I desperately wanted to achieve for those wonderful people in Portsmouth.’

Asked about when Redknapp went to Southampton he said: ‘He made a mistake going there which I don’t think he enjoyed very much.’

Mandaric said he talked to Redknapp about investing money.

‘I did tell Harry “when the time’s right when it’s appropriate I would like to introduce you maybe you might be interested to look at some investment in America”.’

He said he told Harry about his portfolio of investments in 2002.

Asked why he wanted to help Redknapp invest money he said: ‘It’s a good question but it’s an easy question to answer.

‘Earlier I was saying about our friendship, I kind of felt I wanted to do something special for Harry, something that no other people could do.’

He said it was nothing to do with his employment.

‘I wanted to do something special for my friend,’ he said.

He said Redknapp was paid bonuses but it was always through the club.

‘I wanted to demonstrate to Harry that I could do something for him differently than being a manager of football. This has got nothing to do with employment.’

Asked if the money paid into the Monaco account had anything to do with Redknapp’s job he said: ‘Absolutely not.’

Asked about the dispute over the Peter Crouch transfer Mandaric said: ‘I told him, very simple, I said Harry you are owed by the new contract five per cent, not 10 per cent and the club is paying you that and I don’t think you have got base to be unhappy about that because you signed the contract.’

He said the money was seed money for investment.

‘We had to do it in Monaco because that’s where I had my money, that’s where my bank is.’

Asked if he was giving the $145,000 to Redknapp, Mandaric said: ‘No, I don’t give him that.

‘That money was seed money to organise the system and the project of which Harry invested money.’

Asked whose money it was he said: ‘It belongs to me.’

Lord Ken Macdonald QC, defending, said: ‘Did that ever change?’

‘No not at all,’ he replied.

The second payment was made just before Pompey were promoted to the Premier League in 2003.

Asked about that Mandaric said: ‘It was probably one of the most exciting periods of my football life, promotion, freedom of the city, it was an exciting time for all of us.’

Asked how the people of Portsmouth reacted he said: ‘They loved us all along.

‘That was a special day for the club that was bankrupt, that was going nowhere.

‘I was working very hard with the city for enlarging, enhancing the new stadium. It as all going up and up for that club and it’s all done by two friends, Harry and me.’

Mandaric said the second payment was because the first lot of seed money was lost on the stock market.

Not wanting to let Harry down he put more seed money, the same amount as before with a notional profit, back in the Monaco account.

Mandaric was asked about when Redknapp left for Southampton.

‘We came to the point where Harry wanted to leave,’ he said.

‘I wasn’t very happy with that, at the same time Harry wasn’t very happy.

‘He went from Portsmouth to Southampton. We didn’t speak. It was a bit of a bitter divorce.

‘It was a bit on the bitter side, especially as Southampton and Portsmouth, there’s no love lost there.’