Cyclingnews has learned that Pegasus Racing, which in 2011 operated in the form of UCI Continental team V Australia, is the focus of an investigation by the Australian Taxation Office following (ATO) numerous complaints by former riders. White denies that any such investigation is underway.
Under Australian law, employers must contribute an additional nine per cent of an eligible employee's wages into a compliant superannuation fund. Failure to do so results in the superannuation guarantee charge which is composed of the amount of the unpaid super contribution plus an administrative penalty and some interest. Payments then go back to the employees. At the beginning of this financial year (July 1, 2011), significant penalties were introduced by the Australian Federal Government making company directors, which in the case of Pegasus Racing is Chris White, personally liable for their company's failure to pay employee superannuation.
The ATO does not comment on individual's tax affairs.
Cyclingnews contacted White and he said that news of the ATO investigation was "completely untrue" adding he "did not wish to continue the conversation" before hanging up.
White later contacted Cyclingnews:
"I'm not being investigated [by the ATO] to my knowledge," he stated. "No one from the tax office has called me or made any contact with me in any way, shape or form."
Meantime, former sponsor Virgin Australia confirmed to Cyclingnews late last week that a financial settlement between the airline and White had been reached following negotiations which lasted several months.
"Negotiations have concluded, and contents of the contract and agreement remain confidential," a spokeswoman for Virgin Australia informed Cyclingnews.
Pegasus Racing's contract with V Australia was renewed in May 2011 year but in September the airline informed White that financial sponsorship would not continue for 2012 with payment for the final two quarters of the year were withheld. Cyclingnews reported on December 22 that the team had ridden its final race.
Several riders on the Pegasus roster for the 2011 season, who wish to remain anonymous, have informed Cyclingnews that they are still owed wages and other entitlements. The vast majority of riders and staff took significant pay cuts for the last season, up to half of what they had earned in previous years.
"At all times, at Pegasus Racing we've met our responsibilities," White explained. "In life disputes happen but disputes are resolved. There are none. I have receipts and proof of payment of all superannuation, and all taxation liabilities for the company. There is [sic] no funds owing. I strenuously deny that we, the company, have failed to meet any obligations. I have the proof and all receipts."
The 2011 season was a frustrating one for the riders of V Australia with a very lean race calendar, especially in the United States. The number of total race days for Pegasus Racing had gone from 232 in 2009, 234 in 2010 to 145 in 2011. Others have informed Cyclingnews that there were multiple occasions where they were forced to race on training bikes and wheels, and also pay for their own flights and race entry fees. The V Australia team budget for the 2011 season was believed to be in the vicinity of $1.3million.
White intended to apply for a Continental Licence for the 2012 season and an application was lodged under BPM Pro Cycling but unable to secure financial backing missed the December 10 deadline with Cycling Australia.