This is not fun-tastic (UPDATED)

Posted by Iannucci | 10/02/2008 | 21 comments »
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You can drive fast and climb fences, but you can’t escape the long arm of the law.

Helio Castroneves -- winner of both the Indianapolis 500 and reality TV show Dancing with the Stars -- will soon be doing the tango with the IRS over multimillion-dollar tax-evasion charges in Miami federal court, U.S. authorities said.

The famed Brazilian driver, who owns a Coral Gables mansion sporting his auto-racing trophies and two checkered flags from his Indy 500 victories, was indicted along with a relative and an Ohio attorney on Thursday, authorities said.

The 33-year-old Team Penske star is charged with failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes over a four-year period, authorities said. His sister, Kati Castroneves, and his lawyer, Allan Miller, are accused of assisting him in the alleged tax-evasion scheme.

(MORE from the Miami Herald)
$5 Meeellion? Wow, that'd buy a lot of dancing shoes. I don't know how this is going to go over with The Captain, though.

"Helio, what's all this tax evasion nonsense about?"

"Roger, I have nothing smart to say."

Thanks to several readers for the alert.


The indictment alleged they used a Panamanian shell corporation to fraudulently conceal from the Internal Revenue Service income received from Penske Racing and another company. -

“We knew about it, obviously, in advance,” said Bud Denker, the executive vice president of Penske Racing. “As a result of that, we will get (the indictment), review it and move forward.

“Right now we’re business as usual.”

They are accused of trying to "conceal and disguise" Helio's income. One of the charges -- that Helio received $2 million in salary from a Brazilian trading company but made it appear that he only received $200,000.

The Conspiracy and Tax Evasion charges are each punishable by a maximum of 5 years in federal prison.

And finally, brace yourself for this, from this FoxSports/AP.

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.
Is it too early to say "Drivers, start your résumés"?

Here is what the indictment looks like, courtesy of WTHR.


  1. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // October 02, 2008 1:54 PM  

    i just read this on and i think i'm going to throw-up.

  2. Anonymous // October 02, 2008 2:30 PM  

    I don't think fancy footwork is going to help Helio much with this one.

  3. J E Clerk // October 02, 2008 2:36 PM  

    this is a joke, right?

  4. Too Much Racing // October 02, 2008 3:02 PM  

    I can't believe it. Helio? Mr Squeaky Clean, primetime family entertainment, twinkle in his eye? And he's a tax dodger, and not a small one.

    Are we talking about the same guy?

  5. Anonymous // October 02, 2008 3:15 PM  

    I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around this.

  6. Anonymous // October 02, 2008 4:40 PM  

    The indictment makes for interesting reading. Especially the part where its alleged that he lied to Team Penkse regarding the status of the foreign shell companies he set up.

    Hopefully Helio can settle this in a manner that allows him to continue racing with Team Penske. However, I'm guessing Justin Wilson and Will Power's agents will soon be contacting The Captain.

  7. Carrie // October 02, 2008 5:02 PM  

    Honestly I'm more worried about how Roger F'n Penske is going to deal with Helio lying to his company than I am about how the government is going to deal with Helio evading his taxes.

    Roger F'n Penske scares me.

    Seriously though... just wow.

  8. Sarah Fan // October 02, 2008 5:27 PM  

    I'm not planning to see Helio at Surfer's. The first thing the IRS does is seize the passport. And Helio would be considered a prime flight risk. As an accountant, I'd say this is probably one of the stupidest things someone can do. And to do it in the size the indictment indicates, wow.

    I would wager the Captain is not a happy camper. It'll be interesting to see who's in the car at Surfer's.

  9. meeshbeer // October 02, 2008 5:41 PM  

    I'm guessing that Helio will "have nothing smart to say" this weekend in Atlanta (if he even participates now)

    zoinks, this is going to be messy for everyone involved or associated with twinkletoes.

  10. AGRfan26 // October 02, 2008 6:32 PM  

    I'm with jennifer-after reading the extent of this I'm sick. Just goes to show, you can't tell a book by it's cover. I wonder how much of this Helio actually knew about and understood. I can see him getting the wool pulled over his eyes.

    So, if Penske gives Helio his wakling papers- who's in the cockpit of the #3 ?

  11. Anonymous // October 02, 2008 6:43 PM  

    If you read the indictment, Helio was fully involved in the events. He will be fully involved with the consequences. A very sad day for racing.

  12. AGRfan26 // October 02, 2008 7:15 PM  

    Here's the U.S. Department of Justice Press release. It's shorter and a bit easier to read that the entire indictment for those interested:


  13. Bash // October 02, 2008 8:16 PM  

    Helio: "Ohhh, TAXES. I thought you said "TEXAS." That's why I said "No, thanks."

    Seriously, this ain't pretty...

  14. mmack // October 03, 2008 6:23 AM  

    Well, it looks like Helio! is going from #3 to #28301-200.


    With this news coming atop the White Sox blowing game #1 in the playoffs and the Cubs putting themselves in a 0-2 hole AT HOME last night, things were pretty grim sportswise in the mmack household. Although the only laughs were provided when mrs. mmack and I speculated about who would drive #3 from here on out:

    "Probably one of his ALMS drivers."

    "Hey, Tomas Scheckter has some free time."

    "Well, Roger could call Paul Tracy. Penske Racing can party like it's 1997!"

    Maria even offered that Andretti 3.0 may be begging for a chance at the seat. His pitch: "After all, my grandpa did drive for you!"

    I'm an adult, and I'd long ago learned that athletes aren't perfect people off the playing field. But that said, this really stuns me. If I'm reading this correctly, Helio! tried to run a scam-bo on Roger Penske. He lied to the man who pulled his career out of mid-packing at best (he ran for Bettenhausen, and later Hogan racing in CART, back when it was CART). That fact right there floors me. And given what's coming out about these schemes, I don't think a "Hey, I trusted them with my money! I just gave them my checks and they said they'd 'handle' it for me" defense is going to fly for him.

    Helio! should have used Google or Yahoo! to read up on John Paul, Jr. and what happened to his career after spending some time in "Club Fed" before going forward with this.

    Uncle Sugar has a lot of time, a lot of lawyers, and he always gets his share in the end.

  15. SandWedge // October 03, 2008 6:50 AM  

    honestly, if Helio is to lose the seat, Penske just lost its best driving prospect when Vitor took what was left singing with Foyt.

  16. chrisestrada // October 03, 2008 9:11 AM  

    Remember ya'll, innocent until proven guilty.

    With that being said, if I'm Roger Penske, I'm throwing a giant sack of cash in A.J. Allmendinger's direction to drive the No. 3. With the IRL as it is now, Dinger would be a killer.

  17. Billy Coy // October 03, 2008 10:06 AM  

    it's a neeew taaaax record

  18. Robert // October 03, 2008 11:37 AM  

    I can't remember the specifics -but wasn't there a Canadian Hockey Player that went through this about 3 or 4 years ago (played for a US Team) and everyone jumped to burn him at the steak and then found out it was a clerical error, filing error, or something stupid like that.....

    I am personally waiting for the facts until I pass judgment

  19. Carrie // October 03, 2008 12:46 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  20. Carrie // October 03, 2008 12:47 PM  

    After more thinking, I'll wait until Helio tells his side before I make any statements about whether I think he's innocent or guilty.

    His lawyer made some pretty good points at pre-trial today and, if they have screwed up, it would not be the first or last time to gov't has gotten things very, very wrong because of their overzealousness.

  21. Bash // October 03, 2008 9:17 PM  

    If he's convicted, will they throw him in the PEN(ske)?

    Sorry, folks. When I'm stunned, I pun. I'm gettin' a big stack o' puns outta this one...boggled.