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West Ham and Newcastle raided, arrests made in tax probe

English football clubs were raided as part of a wide-sweeping probe, with several men arrested for suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.

Newcastle United stadium. Picture: www.nufc.co.uk.

PARIS - English football clubs were raided early on Wednesday morning by tax officials as part of a wide-sweeping probe, with several men arrested for suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.

British media were reporting that West Ham United and Newcastle United were targets of the investigation.

The London club did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment, while a Newcastle spokesperson said she expected to issue a statement “in due course”.

West Ham issued a statement to local media, saying the club was “cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries”.

The body responsible for United Kingdom’s tax collection said: “180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today.

“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the North East and South East of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.

“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.”

HMRC said French authorities were assisting the UK investigation, that they have made arrests and that several locations have been searched in France.

A French judicial source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed to Reuters that a preliminary investigation has been opened and that operations were underway in France and in the UK.

The source, who declined to be named, would not elaborate.

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