In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, PSG players Ángel Di Maria and Javier Pastore woke up to unexpected and surely unwanted guests at their doorsteps: agents from the French Central Anti-Corruption and Financial Offenses Bureau. The agents were acting as part of a tax probe stemming from a 2016 report that concluded that tax evasion was rampant amongst top soccer players in Europe.
According to French outlet AFP, French police began investigating PSG and its players in December, following the infamous “Football Leaks” report that named top-flight soccer players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba as possible tax evaders.
The report alleged that players were using offshore tax havens to hide earnings–specifically those tied to image rights and marketing–from governing tax bodies. “Football Leaks” specifically named the PSG duo, stating that Di Maria illegally hid over 5 million euros ($5.59 million USD) between 2013–when he was a Real Madrid player–and 2016, while Pastore is also implicated in the same practice (although the amount he allegedly kept from tax authorities is not publicly known).
The offices of PSG at both the Parc des Princes stadium and the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt were also raided in conjunction with the Argentine players’ homes. According to the “Football Leaks” release, the French giants had a contract with a Panamanian offshore company, in which they would direct players to the company in return for a percentage of earnings. The club would later deny those allegations to Mediapart, the French journal that originally published the “Football Leaks” report.
Di Maria and Pastore are the newest in a handful of Argentinian players investigated for tax fraud. Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano were both charged with tax evasion in Spain, while Nantes striker Emiliano Sala was also investigated in this most recent probe.