A report published by Mediapart as part of the ongoing Football Leaks series this morning sought to praise French international and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema for his “exemplary” tax record.
When it comes to image rights, unlike the vast majority of his colleagues at Real Madrid who have opened companies in tax havens (including Cristiano Ronaldo), the French striker chose to establish his company “Best of Benzema” in Lyon, his birthplace.
Karim Benzema is not like Cristiano Ronaldo who has been alleged to hide millions abroad, which surprised Real Madrid’s lawyers when the Spanish authorities asked them to provide an audit on the Frenchman in October 2015. An individual at that time is understood to have told Benzema that if he is using offshore structures he must assure that he makes sure it is properly regulated or he could face penalties for tax evasion. When the response from the Benzema camp was that there was no need to worry, individuals inside Los Blancos were surprised.
Benzema in fact is even more impressive than that when it comes to taxes. As a result of living in Spain since summer 2009, Karim Benzema could have moved his company to Spain where they would have paid less corporation tax, in the country where he is of course currently paying his income taxes. He did not do so, despite the rate in Spain being for a man like Benzema, with an impressive legal team, around less than 5%, whereas in France the corporate tax rate is 33.3%.
The average turnover of “Best of Benzema” since 2010 has been around €2m, including payments from the French Football Federation of €160k, Electronic Arts (EA) of €70k for Benzema’s involvement in FIFA 12 and a payment of €838k from Adidas.
Specific clauses that Benzema has with Adidas include a €500 goal bonus, and a €600k bonus for playing in half or more of the French national team matches a year. Not to mention the €4.075k in equipment given to the Real Madrid striker.
“Best of Benzema” is owned 90% by Karim, the other 10% is shared out equally between his mother and father, Hafid and Malika.
Karim Benzema is not perfect, everybody is aware of that by now. In documents obtained by Football Leaks it is clear that Benzema has gotten to know the Spanish justice system during his time at Real Madrid including a series of speeding fines, driving without the correct permit, and a hearing as a result of his dog biting a woman. There is even a ongoing discussion between the Spanish and French tax authorities over where Benzema should pay his taxes, according to the report, with the former hoping to get some more money out of the Frenchman.
In France, the tax authorities accused Karim Benzema in 2011 of not declaring the bonuses he earned with the French national team. Benzema pleaded ignorance and was shown “good faith” by the French courts.