Football’s super-agent Raiola under fire over Malta tax company

Italian TV show Report has accused Mino Raiola of using his Malta company to avoid paying taxes in Italy

Sports minister Clifton Grima smiles for a quick snap with footballing super-agent Mino Raiola, who was in Malta earlier this week
Sports minister Clifton Grima smiles for a quick snap with footballing super-agent Mino Raiola, who was in Malta earlier this week

International football super-agent Mino Raiola has come under fire after an Italian investigative TV show accused him of using his Malta-based company as a façade for favourable tax rates.

Rai TV’s Report discussed Raiola’s company Three Sports Business, with one journalist travelling to Malta to the company’s registered address in a bid to determine the existence of the company beyond its tax residence in Malta.

Report claimed Raiola uses Three Sports Business Ltd as a “phantom company” to avoid paying taxes to Italian authorities.

Widely regarded as one of the most powerful men in football, Raiola represented the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Mario Balotelli, and was the mastermind behind the world record transfer of Paul Pogba to Manchester United back in 2016, having made a reported €25 million from the transfer alone.

The episode gave its customary slap on the wrist to Malta’s taxation system, which allows foreign companies to claim up to 85% in rebates on the 35% tax rate they paid on revenues booked in Malta. In an anonymous interview with a financial consultant, the reporter explains that so long as Three Sports Business has offices in Malta, Raiola’s business model is fair game.

The Raiola firm is established at the corporate services firm Credence in Ta’ Xbiex, which in 2017 was at the centre of controversy after the MaltaFiles collaboration revealed its involvement in Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s family’s offshore network.

The firm also provided corporate services to Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko’s fast loan company, helping it avoid millions in tax by transferring the profits to Malta.

Credence acted as Raiola’s company service provider when the company was still in formation.

In May 2019, FIFA suspended Raiola and Three Sports Business from all transfer activity worldwide. Reasons for the ban were unclear, but his suspension meant that Raiola would have been unable to complete any deals until August 9 that year – the day after the closing of the Premier League transfer window.

Raiola appealed the decision, and FIFA lifted the ban in June.

Federico Pastorello, another big-name football agent, was also accused by the Italian TV show of using Malta as a tax haven. Pastorello owns Sovi International, a company registered in Malta with its legal address based in Floriana’s St Anne’s Street.

Like Three Sports Business, the address of Sovi International is shared with Zeta Advisory Services, who offers similar company formation services to that of Credence.

Raiola has since announced legal action against Report, while launching a tirade against the programme and RAI. “RAI should be the guarantor of serious and responsible journalism. Instead, a journalist was sent to Malta to recount so many falsehoods and was not avle or willing to find the correct address of my company, despite them having consulted the Malta business registry where the address reported is correct,” he told Corriere dello Sport.

Meanwhile, Raiola visited Malta this week to address a press conference about Three Sports, saying that Malta is an interesting place in terms or sport and legislation.

He said that the company wants to help bring its know-how to the Maltese shores, and hopes to meet with the Malta Football Association to see how football can improve in Malta.

During his visit, Raiola also expressed interest in signing a female Maltese player, but did not specify who the player is. “She’s one of the best, so we will see if we can sign her,” he told the press conference.