Argentinian attacker Angel Di Maria has just been handed a suspended prison sentence in Spain....
With Paris St Germain star Angel Di Maria pleading guilty to tax fraud in Spain this week, it has come to light that he used the same two Irish companies that have figured in similar investigations into Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.
According to The Irish Times, Di Maria had transferred his image rights to the Panama-based Sunpex Corporation, before Sunpex ceded his rights to the Dublin companies Multisports & Image Management (MIM) and Polaris Sports.
These Irish firms then dealt directly with companies making payments to the Argentinian footballer for use of his image, before transferring cash back to Panama.
Di Maria was being investigated by Spanish authorities for evading taxes of €1.3 million on image rights during his time at Real Madrid. He has agreed to pay fines and back taxes of €2m, while his one-year prison sentence is likely to be suspended.
Ronaldo and Mourinho both previously worked with Di Maria in Madrid and both also used MIM and Polaris in their image rights structures. The trio are represented by Portugese super-agent Jorge Mendes, who in turn has close links to the Dublin tax advisory practice of accountants Moore Stephens.
The Dublin connection with Ronaldo, a recent back-to-back Champions League winner with Real, was reported as far back as December.
Spanish newspaper El Confidencial revealed the 32-year-old had been invoicing the majority of his advertising revenues through an Irish company.
It published a document showing that MIM was used to conclude a €1.1m imaging rights deal with Saudi mobile phone company Mobily in 2012.
On foot of the report, German MEP Sven Giegold said it "comes as no surprise that the company is located in Ireland given the country's low corporate tax rate" and reiterated calls for the introduction of a minimum rate to avoid a "race to the bottom".
For his part, Ronaldo has denied the tax evasion accusations.
Spanish prosecutors are pursuing a separate €3.3m claim against Mourinho – the Manchester United manager has similarly denied any wrongdoing, with his people releasing a swift and detailed statement this week.
"Jose Mourinho has not received any notification with regards to the news published today.
"To this date, neither the Spanish tax authorities, nor the public prosecutor have contacted Jose Mourinho or his advisers who were hired for the inspection process.
"Jose Mourinho, who lived in Spain from June 2010 until May 2013, paid more than 26 million euros in taxes, with an average tax rate over 41 per cent, and accepted the regularization proposals made by the Spanish tax authorities in 2015 regarding the years of 2011 and 2012 and entered into a settlement agreement regarding 2013.
"The Spanish government in turn, through the Tax Department, issued a certificate in which it attested that he had regularised his position and was in compliance with all his tax obligations."