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N’golo Kante, the only innocent in a slew of Pandora revelations

The Pandora Papers may have opened many politicians’ Pandora’s boxes but one man has been able to avoid being caught in the web. 

He steals the ball for fun, and tackles for a living. Loved by all, hated by none, N’golo Kante may have avoided being caught in the steaming pot of a great, never-seen-before slew of revelations. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed it has found some world leaders, businessmen, entertainers, and sportsmen secretly owning properties in tax havens, in a bid to avoid paying on their properties. Pandora Papers are 2.9-terabytes, 11.9million documents revealing the discoveries of 617 journalists from 150 news outlets across 117 countries in the world. 

High-profile names like Tony Blair and his wife, King Abdullah of Jordan, the ruling Kenyatta family in Kenya, a former Nigerian Vice Presidential candidate, and a host of others were found in one unscrupulous activity or the other according to the documents. 

While there are no explanations yet as to the extent and level of involvement of the aforementioned names, some sportsmen have also been tagged along. Among them is former footballer and manager of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola. The former Bayern Munich manager was found to have used an offshore account in Andorra to store his income for playing for Al-Ahli in Qatar. He however later accepted a tax amnesty offer from the Andorran government before closing his account. 

Carlo Ancelotti, another respectable football manager was also involved as his name was found in the papers. He had been previously alleged of evading taxes in the past by Spanish authorities and may have used offshore companies to secure properties in tax havens. Wondering where the innocent Kante is involved in all of this? 

In 2016, Kante had grown to be the delight of many, as he helped Leicester to a fairytale Premier League title. Chelsea came knocking and the Frenchman moved to London in a £32m move. A few weeks before teaming up with the Blues, a company known as NK Promotions had been registered in Jersey, a large island between England and France popularly serving as a tax-free haven for political bigwigs in the world. The reason for the establishment of the offshore company was to allow Kante to pay 10% of his income (salary and image rights) abroad. A lawyer representing Kante had revealed that the midfielder will approve payments into such accounts but the player made a quick turnaround at the time in order to avoid tax evasion issues like the current trending Pandora Papers.

A Chelsea statement in 2018 said about the deal; “N’Golo is inflexible, he simply wants a normal salary. After reading numerous press articles on image rights and tax investigations against players and clubs, N’Golo is increasingly concerned that the set-up proposed to him could be questioned by the tax authorities. N’Golo decided that he did not want to take any risks.”

Leaked documents showing Kante’s rejection of the deal, was published by a French outlet, Mediapart in 2018 but it wasn’t the first of its kind.

The Premier League is replete with such stories of footballers who own offshore accounts or companies, with or sometimes without their notice, mainly for receiving payments on their image rights. In cases where these companies are in tax havens, issues like the Pandora Papers may have been courted. 

Kante, by that decision to reject getting paid in an offshore company, may have avoided a potential embarrassment on a global scale. The midfielder has stolen a ball again.

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