Montpellier have long been in the sights of the TOP14 salary cap manager but recent developments could see the club face punishment.
Last week French newspaper Midi Olympique reported that the LNR's salary cap manager Samuel Gauthier had found evidence that Montpellier have failed to adhere to the cap which is set in the region of 11.3 million euros
The report by the newspaper said that Gauthier had filed his dossier which has been seen by both the club and the competition's officials. This is not the first time Montpellier have been accused of breaching the cap, in 2017 the club were handed a 400,000 euro fine for breaching the cap, a penalty which they successfully appealed. A year earlier, Montpellier had also been accused of breaching the cap by 350,000 euros but the FFR had cleared them of wrongdoing.
Since Midi Olympique's report, French broadcaster RMC Sport have released further details of how Montpellier have disguised player salaries particularly in the case of Springbok utility back Johan Goosen. As part of RMC Sport's information, numerous top players at the club would not earn more than €17,000 which is in stark contrast of the earnings that players of their calibre would normally receive.
The story of Goosen goes back to June 2016 after Racing 92 won the TOP14 with their star man Johan Goosen being named as the player of the season. Goosen then signed a new deal with the Paris-based side until the end of the 2019/20 season but according to RMC Sport, the South African is keen to earn more arguing that he was unaware of the tax implications of his contract.
This is when Goosen reportedly took advice from his Springbok teammate Willie Le Roux and linked up with the latter's personal agent, Eduard Kelder. The report goes on to detail that Kelder notified his colleague, Gerrie Swart, who is established in Montpellier and is the agent of Bismarck Du Plessis, Jannie Du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Jacques Du Plessis, Henry Immelman, Jan Serfontein, and François Steyn. At the time, Kelder was suspended in France for three years because of "financial mismanagement".
Goosen changed agents and entrusted his interests with Swart. He later announced his retirement from rugby in December 2016 to take up a role as a commercial director at an agricultural company in South Africa.
According to RMC's information, Kelder, Swart and Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad set up a front which made it possible for Montpellier to pay Goosen in order for the player to sign with the club at a later date despite the fact that he was still under contract with Racing 92.
“He was paid via two front companies, one in Switzerland and in Hong Kong, and this cattle company bought cattle from Goosen’s company at overvalued prices to allow him to recover the money. " - a source told RMC Sport.
Goosen eventually came out of retirement signing for Montpellier in 2018 who bought him out of the remainder of his contract at Racing 92, a deal between the two clubs that is said to have cost Montpellier 1.5 million euros.
When he arrived at the club, Swart told him that he is no longer willing to represent him as he feared the taxes that would arise.
With Swart reportedly representing a number of the Montpellier players, it is rumoured that there are a number of other cases where the club is paying players well below their market value and are disguising their payments much like the reports of Goosen's situation.
Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad refused to comment on the information revealed by RMC Sport.