Forward Racing Boss Cuzari Arrested On Corruption And Fraud Charges - Team Faces Uncertain Future

The Forward Racing team faces an uncertain future. On his return from the German round of MotoGP at the Sachsenring, Forward Racing boss Giovanni Cuzari was arrested by the Swiss authorities on charges of suspected corruption of a public official, and money laundering through sponsorship activities. Cuzari remains under arrest, and is expected to face a hearing on Friday or Saturday. That hearing will determine whether Cuzari will be released, or will have to remain under arrest while the investigation continues.

At the heart of the case are allegations that the head of the Ticino tax inspectorate, Libero Galli, accepted bribes in return for special treatment by the Swiss tax authorities. Libero is charged with abuse of authority, passive corruption and improper application of fiscal regulations. Galli is alleged to have received payments from Giovanni Cuzari in return for special treatment of sponsorship income of Media Action, the company owned and operated by Cuzari which manages the sponsorship money of Forward Racing. Both men have been arrested, and assets and bank accounts have been frozen, as the investigation continues.

Cuzari denies the charges, though he does not deny contact with Galli. According to the local paper Il Corriere Del Ticino, Cuzari claims only to have paid for a couple of lunches with Galli, a dinner at an event, and having invited Galli to a Grand Prix. The regional police in charge of tax fraud have frozen a range of assets to allow them to investigate this thoroughly, and are searching for cash or other asset flows which indicate collusion between the two. To that end, large amounts of documentation have been removed from the offices of both Media Action, Cuzari's company, and the home of Galli.

Cuzari remains in detention, and will appear before magistrates either on Friday or Saturday, to determine whether he will remain in preventitive detention or be released while the investigation continues. Even if Cuzari is released, that could cause problems for Forward, as the funds of the team have also been seized, and Cuzari is the only person authorized to dispense them. Without access to funds, the team will not be able to fly to Indianapolis and compete. The news that Cuzari has been arrested has also caused a number of the team's sponsors to reconsider their association with the team, putting further pressure on budgets. According to Speedweek, the German language website run by the manager of Forward Racing's MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl, neither riders, engineers, nor mechanics know yet if they will be heading to Indy in early August.

The news that Cuzari has been arrested does not come as a complete surprise within the paddock. Cuzari is no stranger to financial conflict, having been embroiled with chassis builder FTR early last year. Cuzari denied having failed to pay FTR at the time, though he switched to using independent chassis designer Mark Taylor later that year. Riders, too, have complained of not being paid by the Forward Racing boss. One rider would only comment off the record, saying that they were certain of being paid, but had taken recourse to legal action to ensure it. Aleix Espargaro had also not received full payment for his year at Forward until a week before Mugello this year, Espargaro's manager Albert Valera confirming to MotoMatters.com that Cuzari had only paid the salary owed at the end of May. A verbal agreement to pay Espargaro a bonus had not been honored, Valera added, though Cuzari was entitled not to pay it according to the letter of the contract between Espargaro and Forward Racing. One of the conditions that Yamaha had set out for supplying Forward Racing with bikes for the Open class was that they would be paid in full in advance for the equipment.

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Comments

Corruption? In international motorsports? I don't believe it.

Total votes: 180

If this means the instant collapse of Forward Racing, then Gresini should consider to put Bradl on the Aprilia. Also for Bradl it would be a ride with more potential, I'd say.

Total votes: 172

?

Total votes: 134

What a mess.

Their sponsors include AF Invest. Think that can continue? Another is "Lotto", a lottery. That one sounds more apt. Then there is a Temp employment corporation. ..that one might have to come in handy for some staffers unfortunately. Honestly not sure what NGM is, but Not Getting Money looks to be the state of affairs if they can't open up another cash flow while the investigation is underway. This will take a while. Lots of folks do "creative accounting," this looks like hands caught in the cookie jar going several steps further than that.

There is not only something called The Limit on the track with traction, looks like Cuzari grabbed a bunch too much throttle in multiple business dealings. About time high had a big highside!

Now about that Dorna "buying back a grid spot" we have heard about...crisis = opportunity for those at the ready. Who will it be? How much posturing and promises from Forward until Dorna goes forward with a other team? Those Open Yamahas are a thing of the past too. Personally I won't miss anything about them going if and when they do, and anticipate something good manifesting in their place. Bradl is likely to land on a decent seat, this one was so-so and not tough to equal.

The orange colors of their shirts look a lot like the ones in prison...hmmm.

Total votes: 155

Moving to Gresini is an excellent thought, although it would look like Bradl's career would be plummeting to the outside. However it's a win for Aprilia

Total votes: 171

it's a bloody mess. Not the first time this has happened in Motorsports. I hope someone learns something.

In my opinion, a humble one- Stefan Bradl IS worthy of a decent motogp ride/team.

Total votes: 156

I feel bad for both riders and would like to see them land seats elsewhere in the paddock, especially Stefan.

Stefan on an Aprilia would be great, mind you they would have a man with both factory Honda and open Yamaha experience. It would ofcourse be better if they had a man with factory Yamaha experience, but, you take what you can get.

However I must add, that looking at how they ended their relationship - which wasn't so good to start off with - Tom Sykes must be finding this hilarious.

Total votes: 156

However I must add, that looking at how they ended their relationship - which wasn't so good to start off with - Tom Sykes must be finding this hilarious.

I'm lost. Please can you explain?

Total votes: 136

Unsurprisingly surprising - I just hope that the innocents don't have to pay the price of this folly.

Total votes: 149

how do you think most racing teams worldwide get their budgets filled up?
Tobacco sponsors were childrens game in comparison...

Total votes: 170

'most racing teams'?

Best not to chuck accusations like that around, even in jest, especially as David is the lawyers' first port of call.

Total votes: 148

How is a racing team going to provide money laundering?

Racing teams *spend* money.

Total votes: 150

As I alluded to on Twitter, I can see exactly how it might work, and am reminded of it every time I have to do my taxes. I have income from just about every continent and country in the world, and I have expenses in all of the countries I visit, plus some I don't, due to the international nature of commerce and travel nowadays. It makes doing my taxes hell.

To someone looking to hide money from the taxman, or recycle money obtained fraudulently, racing offers a golden opportunity. Sponsorship income may come from anywhere around the world, often from places beyond the immediate reach of national police agencies, and expenditure is likewise very diverse geographically. Invoices for large sums of money are easily created, and easy to justify, at first sight. It is a business costing multiple millions of euros, and huge cashflows. If you have high six-figure or low seven-figure sums to launder, that can easily be arranged. If one were to attempt to buy products from all of the sponsors currently appearing on the bikes in international motorcycle racing, one might be surprised at exactly how difficult that turned out to be.

I am not saying that it happens in motorcycle racing, just that it is an ideal opportunity for medium-scale money laundering. Money coming in doesn't necessarily have to come from the sources claimed, and money going out doesn't necessarily end up in the destinations claimed. There are lots of complex international cash flows through a range of companies located around the world. Tracking income and expenditure of even completely honest teams is hard enough. 

Total votes: 151

Sounds like a sound investment for the Drug Cartels.

Total votes: 139

I didn't want to accuse anybody, and am deeply sorry if I'm being misunderstood...
but from my own experience I can tell you it works like this:

"I'll give you 100 000 sponsorship to spend, but you have to provide me with the documents stating you've spent 1 000 000 at the end of the season, and no, we don't really care how big or where our logo will be on your fairing..."

It also works when you prepare the bike...did you ever see list prices for SBK kit parts...inflation or what?

as simple as that...and it happens in other sports too (especially football...)

I'm just saying that Cuzari definitely isn't the only one...

Total votes: 132

Has anyone successfully obtained (and used) a CWM REWARDS card yet?

Total votes: 137

...what does CWM stand for and what are they advertising?

Total votes: 127

Well (according to reports) his dad was shot dead. Not something that normally happens to 'everyday people' just going about their normal, everyday, honest business.

Total votes: 135

Has anyone seen a can of it? (other than the crate that appeared at a recent GP)

Total votes: 140

On my todo list for the summer break is to ride down to Luxembourg and see if I can find a can somewhere.

Total votes: 135

After a long time doing not much on a factory-ish Honda RCV, if you were Aprilia would you really want him? How do Bradl and Baz's results compare to Colin Edwards' at this point last year? I might sign Bradl if he was bringing German sponsorship and I didn't have to pay him, but were I Fausto Gresini or the men from Noale, I'd be after Zarco or Rabat instead.

Total votes: 143