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Juve face more legal trouble with latest ‘false accounting’ investigation

One case was closed a few months ago, but a new one has Juventus’ front office in hot water once again.

Torino FC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

For the second time in a matter of months, Juventus’ front office is at the risk of serious discipline as a result of what investigators believe has been false accounting during a two-year period leading up to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Juventus as an entity as well as president Andrea Agnelli, vice president Pavel Nedved and club CEO Maurizio Arrivabene are part of a 15-person group that could end up going to trial for their roles false accounting and other irregularities having to do with transfers, according to Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation, which is about a year old, has alleged that Juventus were able to cash in on illegal commissions from player sales and other dealings. There is also a wrinkle of the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office “also exploring if investors were misled with invoices being issued for non-existent transactions to demonstrate income that in turn could be deemed false accounting,” according to The Associated Press.

The prosecutors in the case requested that Agnelli be put under house arrest, but that was rejected by the investigations judge.

One of the new claims in the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation is that Juventus players did not give up the full amount of their fourth-month salary agreement during the initial months of the pandemic in Italy. Instead, it was only about a month’s worth of wages sacrificed, with a private agreement providing players with the other portion of their wages.

Juventus recently announced that the club lost a recording €254.3 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year. They cited ongoing effects of the pandemic, loss of television revenue in Italy and recent struggles in the Champions League knockout round as main culprits for such a massive financial hit for the second straight year.

Following the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office’s announcement, Juventus released a lengthy statement on the matter later in the day on Tuesday:

“Juventus Football Club S.p.A. (‘Juventus’ or the ‘Company’) announces that yesterday evening, Monday 24 October, it received notification of a notice of conclusion of preliminary investigations and a notice of investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Turin, with reference to the allegation of certain offences against the Company pursuant to Legislative Decree 231/2001, as well as against some of its current and former representatives. The start of the investigation was communicated to the market by means of a press release on 27 November 2021.

“Juventus remains convinced, also taking into account the in-depth legal and accounting investigations carried out by the Company with the help of its consultants and the legal and technical-accounting opinions acquired by the Company, that it has acted in compliance with the laws and regulations governing the preparation of financial reports, in accordance with the applicable accounting principles and related application criteria and in line with international practice in the football industry.

“The accusatory hypotheses put forward by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, partly modified with respect to the original allegations, refer to alleged offences of false corporate communications, false communications addressed to the market, obstruction of the exercise of public supervisory authorities (Consob, in this case) and fraudulent declaration through the use of invoices for non-existent transactions. On the basis of the summary information available at present, the facts that are the subject of the measure concern the financial statements as at 30/6/2019, 30/6/2020 and 30/6/2021 and relate to transactions improperly called ‘exchange’ of rights to the sports performance of football players and agreements to reduce and supplement the remuneration of registered personnel concluded in the financial years 2019/2020, 2020/2021 and 2021/2022.

“The Company and its representatives to whom the notice is addressed may, within twenty days, inspect and extract copies of the investigation documents pursuant to Article 415-bis of the Italian Criminal Code for the purposes of exercising their rights of defence.”

As pointed out in the final paragraph of the club’s statement, Juventus has 20 days to examine the documents in which the investigators have put together. The purpose of this is to allow Juventus’ legal team the chance to put together a defense if it does indeed go to trial, something that is likely a few months down the road if it gets to that point.