I see the Helio trial resumes today:
Hmm, that's it?
Experts say jurors will have to decide if the Castroneves deal was real or contrived to make it appear he didn't have control of his Penske money.
"What the government is saying is, if you are entitled to some cash, and you leave it in your mother's bank account, it's still your cash," said Chas Roy-Chowdrey, a tax expert with the global industry group Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Castroneves is a top Indy Racing League driver, winning the Indy 500 in 2001 and 2002 and finishing second in 2003. In 2007, he gained even greater fame by winning TV's "Dancing With The Stars" competition.
Issues at trial have their origins in the final event of1999 of the Championship Auto Racing Teams, or CART — at the time a rival of the Indy Racing League. On Oct. 31 of that year in Fontana, Calif., Castroneves was driving in the final race for his soon-to-be-disbanded Hogan team and Greg Moore was about to sign a lucrative new contract with Penske Racing.
Moore crashed and was killed. In less than a week, Penske signed Castroneves, using Moore's contract by simply crossing out the old names and amounts and replacing them in handwritten notations. Miller negotiated that deal for $6 million — $1 million paid directly to Castroneves and $5 million to license Castroneves' name and image.
At first, the $5 million was supposed to flow to a Panamanian corporation called Seven Promotions.
In mid-December 1999, Miller sent a letter to Penske asking that the transaction be halted, according to trial testimony. Penske's general counsel, Lawrence Bluth, said the company held onto the Castroneves cash until January 2003, when it was invested with Netherlands firm Fintage Licensing B.V., where it remains today.
"We were ready to make payments to Seven Promotions. We were told not to," Bluth testified.
The IRS and federal prosecutors charge that arrangement was a tax dodge.
They contend Castroneves secretly controlled Seven Promotions — disputed vigorously by the defense — and should have paid U.S. taxes under the "constructive receipt" doctrine as soon as Penske was ready to start cutting checks.
"The individual's wishes do not control," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Axelrod. "A taxpayer may not deliberately turn his back upon income and thereby select the year for which he will report it."
I didn't do too well with trusts and such when I had Professor Gaubatz (RIP), but this strikes me as a tough case for the prosecution.
UPDATE: Pete Yanowitch testifies --
Attorney Peter Yanowitch testified Tuesday that he was involved in contract talks between Castroneves and the Hogan racing team in 1999. Yanowitch says Castroneves wanted his money to go to a Panamanian entity that he owned.