External audit investigates possible fraud at company
Giro d’Italia head and RCS Sport Chief Operating Officer Michele Acquarone has been suspended from his position while an internal investigation into the possible misappropriation of some €13 million at RCS Sport continues.
Acquarone and former CEO Giacomo Catano have each been given “precautionary rather than disciplinary” suspensions during the audit of RCS Sport's finances, according to a report in the financial newspaper Milano Finanza on Thursday.
Catano resigned as CEO and moved to a different role within parent company RCS Media Group after internal checks had revealed the gap in the RCS Sport finances. Last week an external auditor was appointed to control the accounts and Ricardo Taranto was appointed as the new CEO. Cyclingnews contacted Michele Acquarone but the Italian refrained from commenting on the story.
Administrative director Laura Bertinotti also resigned from RCS Sport in recent days. Bertinotti’s father, Antonio Bertinotti, is the president of AC Arona, which is two years into a three-year agreement with RCS Sport to organise Milano-Torino.
According to a statement from RCS announcing last week, the audit will look closely at transactions carried out with associations linked to RCS Sport, but not part of the RCS group itself. Initial reports suggested that the cycling sector was not directly involved, although some of the income generated from the Giro d’Italia could have disappeared.
It is also reported that RCS Media Group has effectively placed RCS Sport under the umbrella of RCS Pubblicità, the company’s advertising sector. Milano Finanza describes the move as “a sort of compulsory administration […] to plug the gap and get clarification on RCS Sport’s numbers and on the consequent responsibilities on a personal level.”
The route of the 2014 Giro d’Italia is due to be unveiled in Milan on Monday, the day after the Tour of Lombardy, and while it appears that Acquarone will not be on hand, Cyclingnews understands that the presentation will proceed as planned in spite of the upheaval at RCS.
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