John Carew was one of Norway’s most internationally successful football players and then launched a career in acting. Now he’s facing a long intermission after deciding not to appeal a 14-month jail term for tax evasion.
“He’s chosen to accept his punishment and then get on with his life,” wrote Carew’s defense attorney, Berit Reiss-Andersen, in a press statement. She also wrote in a text message to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that Carew is glad the court believed his testimony that he didn’t intentionally avoid declaring taxes on around NOK 12.8 million of income and on a fortune valued at NOK 307 million.
Carew has consistently stated that he considered himself resident in London and therefore not subject to Norwegian taxation. Prosecutors could prove, however, that he’d exceeded the amount of time allowed for non-residents to be physically present in Norway. Both tax authorities and ultimately the Oslo County Court determined that he was guilty of tax evasion amounting to NOK 5.4 million over a five-year period, from 2014 to 2019, and owes an additional NOK 540,000 in fines.
“The court has concluded that he was negligent, but not willfully,” declared Reiss-Andersen. “We claimed the same thing, and Carew has made it clear he wants to make up for that.”
Prosecutors had wanted him jailed for two years but have also decided not to appeal the shorter sentence handed to Carew. “We’re not satisfied with what’s written in the verdict, but he has been sentenced to a long prison term for exaggerated evasion,” Marianne Bender of the prosecutor’s office told DN. “Based on an overall evaluation we’ve therefore decided not to appeal.”
Carew, now age 43, is originally from Lørenskog, northeast of Oslo, and started playing football as a child. He excelled in the sport and went on to play professionally for Vålerenga in Oslo, Rosenborg in Trondheim and then Roma, Besiktas, Lyon, Aston Villa, Stoke and West Ham.
He also played in 91 matches for Norway’s national team before retiring from the sport and going into acting. He’s received favourable reviews, not least for his role in a popular TV series, and most recently for ironically playing a criminal in the latest “Olsen Band” film. That’s one of the reasons he spent so much time back home in Norway in recent years, where he also owns property. Carew ended up violating the rule that spending more than 183 days in the country in the course of a calendar year makes one liable to Norwegian taxation.
Carew’s longtime agent, friend and adviser Per Flod has called the entire case against Carew, which resulted in a two-week-long trial earlier this autumn, as “terribly sad and undeserved.” Some accountants who testified in court have claimed that Carew relied too heavily on Flod, who’d believed Carew was resident in Great Britain for tax reasons. Flod had countered that it was up to Carew to keep track of how many days he’d been physically present in Norway.
Carew’s defense attorney thinks Norwegian tax authorities “overreacted” in Carew’s case, stressing that Carew never disputed the tax amounts owed and confessed to his negligence. She called the full court case an “unnecessary” public use of resources that created large costs, also for Carew.