Boonen may finally settle tax evasion case

Etixx-QuickStep rider due to appear in court next week

Tom Boonen could be close to finally settling a long-running case into the rider’s tax affairs. According to Belgian newspaper De Tijd, Boonen, his manager Paul De Geyter and several other defendants have settled terms with the courts to end a case that has been ongoing for six years.

The amount that Boonen has paid to settle the case is not known, although it is thought the be around 60 per cent of the amount of the evaded tax. The four-time Paris-Roubaix victor is expected to appear in court along with the other eight defendants a week from Friday.

The Kortrijk courts denied that a settlement had been reached but did say that there had been ‘negotiations’. “It is too early. I can add that there were negotiations and that the prosecutor's office had a proposal made to reach an amicable settlement,” Sporza reports them as saying.

"Today I cannot confirm whether the parties discussed [the issue]. Beware the session is a closed session, on February 26 we will know more. If we determine as prosecutor that the settlement is accepted, we will drop the criminal proceedings."

In 2010, an investigation was launched into the tax arrangements of the QuickStep team. Three years later it was reported that Boonen was being investigated for tax evasion. He later paid some two million euros to resolve the issue. Boonen may have thought that the issue was dealt with but reports cropped up again in early 2015 that he could face trial.

The prosecutors have accused Boonen and the other defendants of hiding their money through ‘complex schemes’ such as image rights schemes. The tax bill reportedly dates from 2005 to 2012 after Boonen returned to Belgium from Monaco. Rider Stijn Devolder and Trek-Segafredo directeur sportif Dirk Demol have also been named as defendants in the case.

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