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US feds slap Oleg Tinkov with $500 million fine for tax fraud

Former team owner owes more than $500 million in taxes, interest, and penalties 'for felony conviction for filing a false tax return.'

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Oleg Tinkov has been slapped with a $500 million fine and a suspended one-year jail sentence for tax fraud.

Documents released by the U.S. Department of Justice this week detail the huge punishment to be served by Tinkov, the former owner of the now-shuttered WorldTour team Tinkoff-Saxo.

“The founder of a Russian bank [i.e., Tinkov] was sentenced today for his felony conviction for filing a false tax return. As required under his plea agreement, prior to sentencing, Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, paid $508,936,184, more than double what he had sought to escape paying to the U.S. Treasury through a scheme to renounce his U.S. citizenship and conceal from the IRS large stock gains that he knew were reportable,” reads the document.

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The Russian-born Tinkov became a U.S citizen in the 1990s, and amassed a net worth once estimated at some $8.2 billion through his portfolio of interests.

The flamboyant businessman moved into cycling in 2012 through his involvement with Saxo Bank-Sungard before stepping up to full title sponsorship of the team of Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan through his banking business in 2016.

Tinkov stepped away from the peloton in 2017 but then became embroiled in a series of scuffles with U.S. officials for allegedly concealing stock market gains. Tinkov eventually entered a plea to one count of filing a false tax return at the start of this month.

The documents released Friday give insight into some of the dealings within Tinkov’s business and banking empire.

“Tinkov was told of his filing and tax obligations by both the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and his U.S.-based accountant. When asked by his accountant if his net worth was more than $2 million for purposes of filling out the expatriation form, Tinkov lied and told him he did not have assets above $2 million. When his accountant later inquired whether his net worth was under $2 million, rather than answer the question, Tinkov filled out the expatriation form himself falsely reporting that his net worth was only $300,000.

“On Feb. 26, 2014, Tinkov filed a 2013 individual tax return that falsely reported his income as only $205,317. In addition, Tinkov did not report any of the gain from the constructive sale of his property worth more than $1.1 billion, nor did he pay the applicable taxes as required by law. In total, Tinkov caused a tax loss of $248,525,339, which he has paid in full with substantial penalties and interest as part of his plea, together with tax liabilities for other years.”

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