MotoGP

Sito Pons hits back at tax evasion allegations

Sito Pons is strongly refuting claims he funnelled his tax through Monaco and London during alleged €2.7m tax dodge

MOTO2 team owner Sito Pons has strongly refuted allegations he owes the Spanish authorities millions in tax payments amid reports prosecutors will chase a huge 24-year jail term for a successful conviction.

A report by the ABC newspaper last week revealed a long-running investigation into suspected tax fraud went deeper than it initially anticipated, with Pons accused of dodging 2.7m euros in taxes over a four-year period.

With prosecutors claiming he funnelled his tax money through properties in Monaco and London when in fact he spent most of his time in Spain, they will seek a serious sentence – plus a 12m euros fine – if he is found guilty.

However, Pons has refuted the claims being brought against him and in a strongly worded statement he breaks down into five points, has vowed to fight the accusations hard.

“'In view of the information published today by the media and in our capacity as lawyers for the defence of Mr. Alfonso (Sito) Pons, we want to state:

'FIRST.- The accusation made by the Public Prosecutor's Office against our client is based on the erroneous assumption that Mr. Pons would not have actually resided in the Principality of Monaco until 2012, nor in the United Kingdom as of that year, but in Spain and, therefore, that is where you had to pay your taxes. However, Mr Pons actually resided in Monaco until 2012 and thereafter in the United Kingdom, as evidenced, from the outset, by certificates issued for this purpose by the authorities of the respective countries. As our courts have established, the mere possession of the certificates of fiscal residence of another State would be sufficient to rule out the commission of a fraud to the Public Treasury.

'SECOND.- Since 2012 Mr. Pons has paid his taxes in the United Kingdom in accordance with the legislation of that country, in which he has his habitual residence and the center of his economic interests, particularly the activity of his PONS RACING team. The British authorities themselves have vehemently defended against Spain the residence in London of Mr. Pons in the planned procedure to avoid double taxation of taxpayers. This procedure is waiting for the Spanish tax authorities to answer the requests made by their British counterparts. In this context, the Spanish authorities hastily finished the inspection procedures and referred the proceedings to the Prosecutor's Office before waiting for the resolution of the friendly procedure. The foregoing is highly relevant because the initiation of the friendly procedure between Spain and the United Kingdom should have paralyzed any action in the tax field, and should therefore never have reached the Prosecutor's Office for the initiation of criminal proceedings against Mr. Pons. Tax residence can hardly be understood as simulated when the relevant authorities, in this case, the British, requested the opening of the friendly procedure when they found that Mr. Pons' tax residence is in the United Kingdom. This is a process that, although provided for in the Convention to avoid double taxation, is not common.

'THIRD.- The frequent visits of Mr. Pons to Barcelona, alluded to by the Prosecutor in his indictment, are justified by the fact that a large part of his family lives in that city and that this is the usual meeting point for his team on his trips around the world during the competition season. In addition, Spain is where a large part of the training and competitions in which its PONS RACING team participates. Mr. Pons spends most of the year traveling between circuits for professional reasons and at his London residence.

'FOURTH.- The present prosecution accusation is part of a persecution that, for years, the Spanish Treasury has unjustifiably launched against our client . Mr. Pons was already unfairly seated on the bench by the Prosecutor's Office and the Tax Agency in 2011 and was freely acquitted of any crime by both the Criminal Judge and the Barcelona Provincial Court, which they then strongly rejected that our client would have simulated his place of residence or committed any crime.

'FIFTH.- The evident disproportion of the penalties requested (twenty-four years in prison, that is, the penalty of two homicides) shows the willingness of both the Prosecutor's Office and the Tax Agency to illegally use our client for exemplary purposes before the Spanish taxpayers and unduly forcing him to pay large amounts that he owes in no way. Despite this, Mr. Pons has offered sufficient guarantees to cover the tax debts, without this offer having been accepted to suspend the execution of the same. In short, as it happened in 2011, this defense will demonstrate the absolute innocence of Mr. Alfonso Pons'.

After retiring shortly after securing his 250GP World Championship titles in 1998 and 1999, Pons moved into team ownership with his eponymous Pons Racing team emerging as one of the more competitive satellite outfits before exiting the premier class.

Since then Pons has focused its attention on the intermediate Moto2 series, scoring the 2013 title with Pol Esargaro.

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