Costa Rican soccer headquarters raided due to financial irregularities
The central offices of the Costa Rican governing body, Fedefútbol, were raided at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday by the Tax Administration branch of the Finance Ministry.
Francisco Villalobos, the general director of Costa Rica’s Tax Administration, said the raid was administered due to Fedefútbol’s refusal to provide the Finance Ministry with accounting documentation concerning the March 29 match between Argentina and Costa Rica.
“We attempted to conduct an audit of Fedefútbol’s management of the accounting process used to fund and tax the game,” Villalobos said. “They refused to cooperate and provide ample documentation about the financing of the activity so once the seizure of the paperwork was approved by appropriate legal entities, we conducted the raid.”
Villalobos said the documentation will be reviewed to see if Fedefútbol applied appropriate sales tax fees for the tickets, as well as for the contract signed with the Argentine soccer governing body. Argentina, a world soccer powerhouse, was reportedly paid an estimated $1 million, to come to Costa Rica and participate in the week-long inaugural ceremonies for the new National Stadium in La Sabana.
In the afternoon, Fedefútbol President Eduardo Li said he considered the raids to be the “latest circus of this government” and that the search by police was a ploy to attract media attention.
“Fedefútbol has given all the information to the Finance Ministry that they requested,” Li said. “They ask us for information and we give it to them. We have hidden no information from the Finance Ministry at any time.”
Li added that Fedefútbol was a non-profit organization, and that financial earnings are invested into the youth development soccer programs. He said that Villalobos can suspect “whatever he wants to” and that Fedefútbol will consider filing a lawsuit against the Finance Ministry in response to the raid.
The Tax Administration also closed 86 commercial businesses Friday for failing to pay income and/or sales taxes. Since taking office in February, Villalobos has made it a goal to reduce fraud and national tax evasion. In 2010, the Comptroller General’s Office reported that more than 60 percent of eligible citizens didn’t pay income taxes.