Norway’s economic crimes unit Økokrim has indicted one of Norway’s most high-profile former professional football players for criminal tax evasion. John Carew is accused of failing to pay around NOK 5.4 million in taxes on his income and personal fortune.
Various allegations of tax evasion apply to the years 2014 to 2019, when he’s accused of failing to report taxable income of nearly NOK 13 million and net worth (also taxable in Norway) of NOK 307.4 million. He was first charged last summer.
“This is a serious case because it involves tax evasion over several years of a considerable amount,” prosecutor Marianne Bender told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday. “We believe we can prove that he knew he provided incorrect information from 2017 to 2019. This is based on evidence in the case but we won’t say more on that until we’re in court.”
Carew and his attorney Berit Reiss-Andersen, however, claim Carew did not intentionally try to avoid taxation and deny criminal intent. “He should have looked deeper (into his tax liability) and asked more questions, and therefore acknowledges gross negligence,” Reiss-Andersen told NRK. “He did not do this willfully, but will acknowledge these conditions.”
Reiss-Andersen, a former leader of the Norwegian Bar Association who also leades the Norwegian Nobel Committee, added that Carew “relied on incorrect advice about taxes.”
Business news service E24 reported that Carew, a former member of Norway’s national men’s football team who played professionally for clubs including Valencia, Roma and Lyon, himself claims he “of course never evaded tax with intention and willingness.” He stated that he realizes he’s responsible for providing correct tax information, “but I have been surrounded by advisers and support staff since I was quite young and definitely have more knowledge about football and real estate investment than on complex tax regulations for those living abroad.”
Carew added that the same “unfortunately also applies to my good friend and longtime adviser (and football agent) Per Flod. I have been given advice that later has proved to be wrong.” Flod refused to comment, telling NRK only that “there’s now an indictment, there will be a court case. “My comments will made in court and nowhere else.” No court date has been set, but Carew’s case is likely to be heard late this summer or fall.