International concert promoter Marcel Avram, who is presently shepherding Michael Jackson’s tour, was arrested in Germany Wednesday on tax evasion charges. The Jackson tour is expected to proceed despite the arrest.
Avram, a well-known overseas impresario whose Mama Concerts and Rau outfit promotes many of the industry’s high-profile roadshows, including those by such artists as Tina Turner and Rod Stewart, was arrested after a three-year investigation.
German prosecutors declined to give details of charges against Avram, but sources told Daily Variety on Friday that Avram was accused of evading more than $4.8 million in back taxes.
Mama Concerts said the charges were connected with the agency’s links to foreign artists who perform in Germany.
Avram’s attorney, Franz Salditt, said the promoter would aggressively challenge the charges.
Mama Concerts said German tax authorities disputed whether foreign artists should have to pay taxes on proceeds from concerts in Germany.
Jackson, who is due to start his tour of Germany in May, pulled out of tour dates there last year because the Bonn government decided to tax entertainers who live abroad on all their income earned in Germany without allowing them to offset their production costs.
The rule increased the tax bite on foreign artists to at least 25% of revenue from a previous rate of 15%.
A public outcry over Jackson’s cancellation prompted Bonn to amend the law so that foreigners could choose whether to pay a flat 25% tax on their income or file a normal tax return as their German counterparts do.
Three years ago Jackson canceled several Avram-promoted concerts in the wake of child molestation allegations being raised against him.
Avram, who filed a lawsuit against Jackson over the cancellations, settled the lawsuit after obtaining an agreement he would have the rights to promote the singer’s next series of concerts.