The Michele Ferrari system revealed

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Apr 4, 2009
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Not sure if this has been posted before but if so, sorry and admin can delete.

Makes for interesting reading:

http://english.gazzetta.it/More_sports/17-10-2012/the-ferrari-system-swiss-bank-accounts-fake-contracts-912946609743.shtml


"How to launder the money earned from doping. Two years of investigations by the public prosecutor Roberti into the doctor from Ferrara. The Gazzetta reveals the set-up that involved not just the riders, but also the teams, for an estimated "turnover" of €30 million


It is the biggest antidoping investigation in the history of sport, much bigger than Operacion Puerto. Thousands of pages of documents, witness statements, wiretaps, searches and international depositions in Switzerland, Monaco and Spain. The public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti form Padova, who has been investigating this matter for years, went after Michele Ferrari, the most famous coach in cycling, to uncover his illegal activities and bring to justice the man everyone called "Doctor Myth" after he had been acquitted on appeal in 2006 in the doping trial in Bologna. The investigators reckon that the sums involved amount to millions of euro, probably as much as €30 million.

CHINESE BOXES— Following this lead, Roberti found the evidence that led to the investigations carried out by the USADA in America involving Lance Armstrong, but he also opened up a much bigger Pandora's box. His investigations have revealed a complex game of Chinese boxes and financial triangulations involving top riders, managers and staff of the most important teams (until the Pro Tour), who have cheated the tax authorities by laundering the money they earned from their illegal activities (the victories achieved thanks to doping) by using Swiss numbered bank accounts with the help of local officials or "resorting to taking the money out of the country in the classic way by putting it in a suitcase and using a hired car". But that is not the only crime. They are also being accused of money laundering by using fake image management contracts with two different versions deposited with a company in Monaco in order to get round the rules of the Union Cycliste Internationale. Another business worth millions of euro, stretching as far as Gibralter and South America.

THE ALLEGED CRIMES— The investigations by the prosecutor from Padova, which began in 2010 and should be completed by the end of the month, are in danger of becoming a tsunami as riders and top athletes, such as the Olympic race walker Alex Schwazer (who tested positived for EPO) and other athletes from the biathlon and triathlon, all used to visit Ferrari at a flat he rented in Saint Moritz or even in a camper he would park by the toll-gate for the motorway at Rioveggio. This is proven by wiretaps. The doctor from Ferrara is under investigation in Padova for conspiracy in the smuggling, sale and administering of performance-enhancing drugs, tax evasion and money laundering, together with his son Stefano, the sports agent Raimondo Scimone, two bank managers from Locarno and Neuchatel, and the Swiss lawyer Rocco Taminelli, who has already declared that he was not involved and merely handled the defence of riders involved in doping matters.

PACKAGE— According to the investigators they created a transnational ring based in Italy that made money from doping, offering their clients a "complete package of services" ranging from advice concerning contracts, training and medication, to legal support when testing positive in drugs tests or in trials for doping by means of "very sharp practices, including the altering of haematic values to call into question the results of drugs tests relating to their biological passport". The aim was to "artificially enhance the performance of the athletes and thereby increase the money they were paid and, in turn, the amount the medical professionals received for looking after them". Dozens of riders are involved, even entire teams, such as Astana and RadioSchack. The Gazzetta is able to reconstruct this money chain on the basis of the international depositions. The man behind everything was Ferrari, who "with the help of his son Stefano and the sports agent Scimone, promoted and set up the ring, and then persuaded the athletes who were his patients to illegally buy banned products (including EPO) or to undergo illegal treatment to enhance their sports performance". In addition to the wiretaps, the investigations have also turned up evidence during "searches carried out on sportsmen/women who were patients of Ferrari. On every occasion performance-enhancing substances (hormones) were seized, some of which are believed to have been smuggled from Switzerland on the trips to Saint Moritz". Moreover, the doctor from Ferrara also moved the proceeds from his criminal activities through bank accounts at the UBS in Neuchatel (where he knew the manager Marco Gigandet) and the Credit Suisse in Saint Moritz. He did this by using as a cover "normal operations in Switzerland" (consultancy activities and legal fees) for the internet website 53x12.com, run by his son Stefano, belonging to the company Health&Performance Athemis Gestion based in Neuchatel. "In truth virtually all the money - write the investigators - was received in cash in Italy and Switzerland so as to avoid paying taxes in the two countries".



BANK ACCOUNTS— The other man behind the operation was Scimone, who with the help of people he knew at the BSI bank in Locarno (the assistant bank manager Edoardo Conceprio) "allowed various Italian and foreign athletes to open bank accounts to move the proceeds of the illegal activities and he himself also transferred the money obtained from the illegal activities". These accounts were used directly by Scarponi, Menchov, Kolobnev, Gusev, Karpets, Ignatiev, Petrov and Ongarato. Scarponi used a branch of the bank in Chiasso. In this way, according to the investigators, "the undeclared money earned from their sports activities (not included in the UCI contract) or the entire sum in the case of contracts with foreign companies based in a country other than the country in which the riders resided or in which they were paid" was transferred or deposited into Swiss accounts. This is what happened in the case of Scarponi, who is resident in Italy, but having a contract with a Colombian team (Savio's Diquigiovanni-Androni) in 2009, he managed to avoid paying tax on almost the entire amount of his contract by transferring it temporarily from Monaco before depositing it in a Swiss bank account, paying just 6% in taxes in the Principality". The wiretaps also "reveal that Scimone arranged the first contact with Ferrari".

CONTRACTS AND TEAMS— But the most fascinating part of the whole story is the game of Chinese boxes. Everything revolved around T&F Sport Management, a company based in Monaco, run by Claudio Tessera. "In this already intricate mechanism involving Scimone, the cyclists and the teams, on Scimone's prompting the cyclists were introduced to T&F Sport Management. Many cyclists signed fake contracts for the management of their image, paying a fee that was a percentage of their income on which they had managed to avoid paying tax by getting their teams to pay them through the Monaco company, which took 6% of their contract. The company and the cyclist reached an agreement separately with T&F, signing another, different image contract the UCI knew nothing about, benefitting the athlete (tax evasion) and the company (which avoided the cost of paying a surety to the UCI)". Basically, the mechanism worked like this: the rider sold his rights to T&F, the teams involved in the scam would then buy the rights at a much higher price and just 6% would be deducted from this sum with the remaining 94% paid to the rider by transferring the money to a Swiss bank account. At this point the rider could re-use this money for different activities. Including paying Ferrari. That is why the public prosecutor is also considering the charge of money laundering. Around twenty professional teams are alleged to have been involved in this scam over the four-year period 2008-2011. The prosecutor's office have obtained the contracts of all the cyclists who rode in that period for Liquigas, Lampre, Colnago, Geox, Androni, Katusha, Quick Step, CNF-Inox, Farnese Vini, Acqua&Sapone, Astana, RadioShack, Vacansoleil, ISD, CSF, LPR, Diquigiovanni, Tinkoff, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner and Milram to compare them with the contracts deposited with the UCI to see how much money they failed to declare. An example is the contract signed by Franco Pellizotti "from which it clearly emerges that there was a second contract as described above", it is written in certain documents. "In addition to Pellizotti, the riders of Astana transferred all the money they received through T&F. The evidence is in the computer seized from Yaroslav Popovych, where in a deleted e-mail reference is made to the involvement of T&F as the company paying him his salary from Olympus, the company that manages Astana". A bottomless black hole"
 
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