London (AFP) – British and French authorities searched premises on both sides of the Channel Wednesday, arresting several men and seizing financial records over suspected tax fraud in the football industry, officials said.
English Premier League club West Ham United confirmed it is under investigation after the UK tax authority HMRC said it has deployed nearly 200 officers over the case.
Newcastle United — which this week won promotion to the Premier League — is also thought to have been targeted but has yet to comment.
The Press Association news agency reported that one of the raids was on Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground with managing director Lee Charnley among those arrested.
“180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today,” the tax authority said in a statement.
“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the northeast and southeast of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.
“The French authorities are assisting the UK investigation, have made arrests and several locations have been searched in France.”
“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences. As this is an ongoing investigation HMRC is unable to provide any further detail at this time,” the statement added.
West Ham said separately it is “cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries”.