MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguayan soccer player Diego Forlan on Monday denied evading taxes by hiding money in Swiss accounts with the British bank HSBC Holdings PLC.
Forlan was among a list of rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty and arms dealers named by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as having been helped by HSBC to dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars in assets.
The ICIJ said Forlan became an HSBC client in 2006 while playing in Spain for Villarreal. The report said Forlan was connected to two client accounts that together listed four bank accounts, and which held as much as $1.4 million in 2006/7.
“I want to make clear that my finances are and have always been in order, in a way that complies with all the tax jurisdictions of the different place in which I have worked, lived and have assets,” Forlan said in a statement on his website www.diegoforlan.com.
Having a Swiss bank account is not illegal and many are held for legitimate purposes.
Late on Sunday, HSBC acknowledged “past compliance and control failures.”
The HSBC client data were supplied by Herve Falciani, a former IT employee of HSBC’s Swiss private bank, HSBC said. HSBC said Falciani downloaded details of accounts and clients at the end of 2006 and early 2007.
French authorities have obtained data on thousands of the customers and shared them with tax authorities elsewhere, including Argentina.
Forlan’s name was one of 61 revealed by the ICIJ, a strategy the former Manchester United and Atletico Madrid player said was aimed at creating headlines.
“I am not part of this alleged investigation ... my name was simply used as a ‘hook’,” Forlan said.
Reporting by Malena Castaldi; Editing by Richard Lough and Grant McCool