© AP, Jan 23, 2012

Redknapp in court at start of tax evasion trial

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp went on trial Monday accused of ``deliberately and dishonestly'' evading taxes during his time in charge of Portsmouth.

The 64-year-old Redknapp and former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric are accused of concealing payments of $295,000 from Britain's tax authority.

Opening the case at Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor John Black described the payments as a ``bung'' - or bribe - paid into a bank outside of Britain to avoid paying tax.

``The crown's case is that the money transferred to that offshore Monaco account was deliberately and dishonestly paid by Mr. Mandaric and was deliberately and dishonestly received by Mr. Redknapp with the intention of concealing them from the U.K. tax authority,'' Black said.

``The prosecution alleges both these defendants are guilty of cheating the public revenue.''

Redknapp was supported in court by Tottenham executives and son Jamie, a former Liverpool and Spurs player.

The trial comes as Redknapp's side lies third in the Premier League, the highest place for a club with an English manager. He is considered a leading choice to replace Fabio Capello as England coach after this year's European Championship.

``He has gained widespread popularity as a talented football manager,'' Black told the jury of eight men and four women. ``He is currently enjoying what may be described as football success as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

``They are currently riding high and are today placed third in the Premier League even after yesterday's disappointment (a 3-2 loss at leader Manchester City).''

Both Redknapp and Mandaric, who is now chairman at third-tier club Sheffield Wednesday, deny the charges.

Redknapp managed south coast club Portsmouth between 2002 and 2004, and returned to Fratton Park in 2005 after a brief spell at its archrival Southampton before moving to Tottenham in 2008.

The first charge alleges that between April 1, 2002, and Nov. 28, 2007, Mandaric paid $145,000 into a bank account held by Redknapp in Monaco, to avoid paying income tax and national insurance.

The second charge of cheating the public revenue relates to a sum of $150,000 allegedly paid by Mandaric to the same account between May 1, 2004, and Nov. 28, 2007.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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