Portuguese authorities are investigating the €9m (£7.7m) that was paid to two agents as part of the €50m transfer that saw the Brazil defender Éder Militão move from Porto to Real Madrid in 2019.
The deal is being investigated by the Departamento Central de Investigacao e Accao Penal (DCIAP) as part of “Operation Red Card”. Earlier this week the inquiry led to the arrest of the Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira along with his son and well-known agent Bruno Macedo.
Vieira – who resigned from his post on Thursday and remains under house arrest having denied the charges – and Macedo are accused of orchestrating a tax fraud and money-laundering scheme since 2014 with some of the charges related to players transferred to Benfica.
But a report in the Portuguese newspaper Publico this week also claimed the investigation is looking into the commissions paid by Porto to Macedo and his partner – Giuliano Bertolucci – on the Militão transaction when the Brazil defender joined Madrid in June 2019.
Militão was sold for a fee of €50m and Porto state in their annual report that they earned €28.4m from his departure. According to the accounts, the remaining €21.6m was received by three parties, two of which were named as Macedo and Bertolucci.
A fee of €3.5m was paid to Macedo’s company – BM Consulting – while Bertolucci, the agent for the former Arsenal defender David Luiz, is referred to as having received a fee, but there is nothing within the document indicating how much.
Separately, there has also been speculation as to who owns the rights to Militão, with São Paulo’s accounts appearing to show they were sold twice when he moved to Porto in 2018: once to the Portuguese side for €7m and also to the German debt-financing company, Score Capital AG, for nearly €18m.
Based in Munich, the German company’s website describes itself as “the pan-European expert for the working capital funding of professional football clubs” having provided loans for Atlético Madrid among others in the past. Why Score Capital would be interested in such a purchase is unclear: the holder of a player’s federative rights is entitled to register the footballer to represent them in competition – something that would appear to be of little use to Score Capital, a boutique financial institution.
In 2015, Fifa banned companies from owning the economic rights of players, following repeated controversy regarding third-party ownership. São Paulo’s financial records are explicit in stating that it is the federative rights – rather than the economic – which Score Capital acquired.
However, Score Capital told the Observer via email they were “not the owner of any federative rights on the player Militão”. Asked whether the fact São Paulo’s accounts state that they did was an oversight, they replied: “This question you need to ask São Paulo?”
São Paulo and Porto have not responded to the Observer’s repeated requests for comment, although a statement from the Portuguese club on Thursday evening said they “were never questioned, heard or questioned in any type of inquiry or judicial diligence” over the either transfer involving Militão and that they had been “duly documented with the required transparency”.
In São Paulo’s 2018-19 annual report – under a section entitled “Participation of Third Parties in Economic Rights” – the Brazilian club lists paying roughly €1.3m to a company owned by Bertolucci.
The agent would receive another payment of €2m a year later through the same company. Both payments were made in relation to Militão. Bertolucci and Macedo are renowned for relationships with both Brazilian and Portuguese clubs. Bertolucci has been a personal source of finance to a number of Brazilian clubs, loaning money to both Santos and Corinthians in 2017.
Macedo is the son of Vespasiano Macedo, a long-time lawyer of the Braga president Antonio Salvador. Bruno, Vespasiano and Salvador are all shareholders in the Brazilian company, Vespasiano – Investimentos Imobiliarios LTDA, along with the super-agent Jorge Mendes. In 2018-19 alone Porto’s books indicate they owe Bruno Macedo’s two companies – Yes Sports LDA and BM Consulting – over €4.5m in fees.