Police and tax authorities raided the Oslo home of former Norwegian football star John Carew on Wednesday, later declaring that they suspect him of serious tax evasion. Norway’s economic crime unit Økokrim also reportedly seized Carew’s mobile phone but Carew himself still hadn’t been arrested.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) was outside the apartment building in Oslo’s affluent Skillebekk neighbourhood that’s registered as Carew’s home in Norway. He’s been both an actor and real estate investor since his football career ended, buying and selling several high-end properties in recent years, but the Skillebekk address is registered and viewed by Norwegian officials as his legal residence.
DN reported that Carew entered the residential building in Skillebekk around 9:30am on Wednesday but left again shortly after 11am. No one else was seen entering or leaving the building until Økokrim’s unit arrived shortly after 2pm.
Økokrim later issued a press release confirming that it had launched an investigation of Carew after tax authorities had reported him for failing to provide information about alleged foreign assets on his Norwegian tax return. He’s also suspected of reporting incorrect information about his income and assets in Norway.
“Økokrim believes there is reason to suspect Carew of aggravated tax evasion,” the white-collar crime unit of Norway’s state police force stated. Court officials apparently agreed, since they issued search warrants that authorized the raid. Økokrim reported that it also raided several other addresses on Wednesday, but that no one had been arrested as of late Wednesday afternoon.
It all boiled down to allegations that Carew has failed to fully declare income and assets that he allegedly holds or controls both in Norway and abroad. “If you are physically present in Norway more than 183 days a year, you are viewed as living in Norway,” stated prosecutor Marianne Bender. “Everyone living in Norway must reveal all income and assets, and pay tax on them.”
‘Has declared everything’
Carew’s longtime agent and business partner Per A Flod told DN he was surprised by the charges filed against Carew. “John Carew has declared everything he has earned and has in term of assets,” Flod told DN, adding that “he has paid his taxes in Great Britain,” where he’s also been living.
DN reported, however, that Carew has been caught in a lengthy conflict with Norwegian tax authorities over his legal tax home. DN reported that Carew and the tax authorities were due to meet in court in February, at which point the state sought to seize Carew’s assets in Norway. The two sides reportedly settled, however, before the matter was due to come up in court.
The Norwegian tax authority Skatteetaten ended up reporting Carew to Økokrim after all. He couldn’t be reached for immediate comment and his attorney, Amund Noss, told DN he hadn’t been aware of Økokrim’s raid on Wednesday.
At that point, reported DN, Carew explained the tax conflict in a statement issued by his lawyer. He stated that he has “always wanted to have orderly tax relations and have always had that. Until last year (2020) I have paid tax to British tax authorities because I was living there. Norwegian tax authorities believe, meanwhile, that it’s Norway that should have the tax revenues.”
Carew went on to state that he “wants to pay the correct tax and cooperate with Norwegian tax authorities to clarify the issues the case raises.”
DN reported that Carew had declared assets worth NOK 31.7 million and zero income in 2019. He paid NOK 250,000 in tax, according to public tax records. He and Flod have operated a company called John Carew AS for several years, in which they made real estate investments. Carew has also has made several private residential real estate envestments in Oslo, Gudbrandsdalen and Florida. News service E24 also reported last year that Carew had sold a top-floor apartment at the waterfront Sørenga development in Oslo for NOK 29.3 million, after reportedly buying it for NOK 20 million three years earlier.