Petacchi accused of tax evasion

Alessandro Petacchi has been accused of tax fraud after being caught up in a wider police investigation in Italy.  The Lampre-Farnese Vini sprinter allegedly earned three million Euro in image rights and advertising contracts during his time with the Milram team without declaring them to Italian tax authorities. According to Italian newspaper Il Giornale, the fraud was organised through a Dutch company, with Petacchi keeping the money in a Swiss bank account.

On top of a substantial fine, the 36 year-old could see criminal proceedings opened against him if the allegations are confirmed and Petacchi is found guilty. Petacchi is the latest Italian professional cyclist to be investigated by the country's tax authorities after Mario Cipollini, Davide Rebellin and most recently Paolo Bettini were targeted by Italian tax investigators.

Petacchi is riding Tirreno-Adriatico but has failed to show in the opening two stages because of the injuries he suffered in a pre-race crash.

"I don't know anything about it. I haven't been notified of anything. I've got to speak to my lawyer to understand what's going on," was all Petacchi said to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper when asked about the tax fraud accusations.

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