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Soccer Club Owner Mandaric Says Tax Evasion Trial an ‘Insult’

Soccer club owner Milan Mandaric told a London court that tax evasion charges over $295,000 paid to Tottenham Manager Harry Redknapp were an “insult” to someone as wealthy and law-abiding as him.

Redknapp, 64, and Sheffield Wednesday owner Mandaric, 73, are on trial on two counts of tax evasion over $295,000 paid into a bank account in Monaco named after the manager’s dog, Rosie, when the two worked together at Portsmouth soccer team.

Mandaric said he was worth “more than 100 million pounds ($157.8 million),” and had amassed a fortune after leaving his native Croatia for the U.S. Mandaric said he’d paid as much as 55 million pounds in taxes during the six years he owned Portsmouth before selling it in January 2006.

“Going through something like this is sad and unfair,” Mandaric said, during a second day of testimony in London. “Its an insult to me, to my family, to my friends, to my associates and even to some of those thousands of supporters who know who the chairman is.”

Prosecutors have said Mandaric transferred Redknapp’s bonuses into the Monaco account to avoid paying U.K. employment taxes. Mandaric said the money didn’t have anything to do with soccer, and was for Redknapp, who had become a friend, to invest in U.S. stocks. Redknapp told police in an interview that the money was a bonus for selling striker Peter Crouch for a profit in 2002.

Mandaric told prosecutor John Black he could have been “wrong” when he wrote in a 2006 letter to Premier League investigators the Monaco account was opened to reward Redknapp for soccer success.

Redknapp has yet to take the witness stand. The soccer coach’s contract was worth 4.2 million pounds over three years when he quit for Southampton in 2004, Mandaric said. He returned to Portsmouth a season later.

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