Spanish prosecutors have accused José Mourinho of defrauding tax authorities there of €3.3 million, after finding that the Portuguese coach used a company in the British Virgin Islands to conceal earnings from the sale of his image rights.
The complicated structure used by Mr Mourinho also incorporated two Dublin-registered companies registered to the north inner city address of Moore Stephens accountants.
The alleged use of Irish companies has also featured in several Spanish tax investigations into other football stars, including Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao and Monaco's Radamel Falcao.
The accusations against Mr Mourinho, currently the manager of Manchester United, date back to his time as coach at Real Madrid. Public prosecutors believe that the 54-year-old failed to declare earnings worth more than €7 million during the years 2011 and 2012, on which he should have paid €3.3 million in taxes.
‘Opaque’ company structure
According to a statement from prosecutors on Tuesday, Mr Mourinho did so “with the aim of obtaining an illicit gain” and after setting up a deliberately “opaque” company structure to manage the earnings from his image rights.
As of Tuesday afternoon Mr Mourinho had not responded to the allegations. The Dublin branch of Moore Stephens says it works to “the highest professional standards ensuring compliance” with all laws.
The accusations come just a week after Spanish prosecutors brought a parallel case against Mr Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s star striker who allegedly withheld taxes worth €14.8 million.
In both cases, tax authorities and prosecutors allege that Mr Mourinho and Mr Ronaldo ceded their image rights to BVI companies which in turn ceded them to Dublin companies Multisports & Image Management and Polaris Sports.
Corporate sponsors would make payments due to the stars to the Dublin companies, who would then send the cash on to the BVI.
Andy Quinn, the managing partner of the Irish branch of Moore Stephens, is a director of both companies.
Both Mr Ronaldo and Mr Mourinho are long-time clients of Jorge Mendes, a well-known Portuguese football agent. When the allegations of tax fraud first surfaced in the media last year, Mr Mendes's agency issued a statement insisting that both men were "up to date with [their] tax obligations".
Mr Mourinho is one of the most celebrated football coaches of recent times, winning the Champions League trophy with both FC Porto from Portugal and Italy's Inter Milan. He also secured league titles with Porto and Inter, as well as with Real Madrid and English side Chelsea.
Known for his confrontational demeanour with referees and journalists, Mr Mourinho famously referred to himself as a “special one” when he took over as Chelsea coach in 2004. The moniker has followed him ever since.
He returned to the London club in 2013, winning another league title in 2015 but left after a disappointing final season. He was hired by Manchester United in 2016, coaching them to victory in the League Cup, and they also won the Europa League in Stockholm last month.
– (Additional reporting: Financial Times)