Jerez Circuit Under Investigation For Tax Fraud
Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.
Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.
The investigation was started after an employee reported the existence of a second, secret set of accounts for the Grand Prix at Jerez, the Diario de Jerez reports. That report eventually led to a warehouse owned by CGJ being searched at the circuit, where an archive of documents was seized, according to the Diario de Jerez. These documents are currently being reviewed by the tax authorities, who have also requested further information from the circuit, including information on all of the agreements signed between the circuit and GCJ in the period between 1996 and 2011, and between Cirjesa and GCJ between June 2012 and last December.
The investigation comes as a further blow to the troubled circuit, which has struggled with debt since restructuring works at the track were carried out back in 2001. The regional authorities and the city council have continually stepped up to support both the circuit and the MotoGP round, as it brings a large amount of visitors and money to the region. Andalucia, the autonomous community in which Jerez is located, is one of the hardest hit regions economically in Spain, with massive unemployment.