Helio Castroneves Faces Charges Of Tax Evasion

According to several sources, Helio Castroneves is facing up to 35 years in prison resulting from an investigation spanning several years for Tax evasion

  1. Castroneves is facing seven counts which carry a maximum of 35 years in jail, according to Adam Kuperstein, a reporter with WTVJ, the NBC affiliate in Miami. Castroneves’ lawyer faces a maximum of twenty years. Neither man is expected to get such a lengthy sentence if convicted, however.  “You don’t mess with the IRS. We joke about that, but no matter who you are, if you’re a celebrity or just an average human being, a normal citizen, when you mess with taxes and the federal government, they’re gonna come down hard,” Kuperstein said in an interview with Eyewitness News.The indictment is the result of an investigation that spanned several years, according to Kuperstein. “This didn’t come out of nowhere. They’ve been paying close attention to Helio. That’s where these charges come from – from 1999 to 2004 – they broke it down and figured out he owed $2 million in taxes. That’s a lot of money, no matter who you are.”-WTHR.com                                                                    
  2. The Brazilian driver’s sister, Kati Castroneves, is also facing indictment charges, as are his attorney, Alan Miller, and an unidentified business manager.

    The charges stem from what authorities told the Miami Herald is failure to pay over $5 million in taxes over the course of four years. –MSNBC

  3.  The indictment charges that Castroneves illegally concealed income from Penske Racing Inc. and the Brazilian firm Coimex International S.A. Neither company is charged with any wrongdoing.

    In Penske’s case, prosecutors say Castroneves was to be paid $5 million in exchange for rights to use his name, likeness and image. The money was initially supposed to go to a Panamanian shell corporation, but then was diverted to a Dutch entity called Fintage Licensing.

    Fintage was set up as a “deferred royalty plan” in which U.S. tax payments can be delayed, which is only legal if Castroneves had no relationship or control over it. Prosecutors say he did have control and that false statements were made to Penske about the relationship.

    Coimex paid Castroneves $600,000 between 1999 through 2001 for sponsorship contracts, but he only paid taxes on about $50,000, prosecutors said.

    Katuicia Castroneves transferred some of the hidden money to a Swiss bank account she controlled with her brother, court documents show.-AP

Not surprisingly, Neither HelioCastroneves.com or Penskeracing.com have made any comment on the matter so far.  What isn’t known is what kind of effect this will have on Helio’s racing career.  Obviously, if he is found guilty and is dealt 35 years, than he’s got major problems, however that is very unlikely.  What is likely is that Helio will not be behind the wheel of a Penske machine this weekend as scheduled to team up with Ryan Briscoe to run in the Petit Le Mans on Saturday.  There are also possibilities that Helio could miss partial if not all of the 09′ season and is questionable for the Surfers race in a few weeks.

UPDATE: Helio to show in court Friday at 1:30pm

UPDATE: The entire indictment can be read courtesy of WTHR

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