This week, it's a race to the finish line of 2021 in the sporting world, as US authorities accuse an ex-Olympic medallist of duping a Covid relief fund out of millions, Indian investigators seek an explanation for suspicious international financial flows from Hockey India, and an Argentinian footballer's career hangs in the balance over money laundering accusations.
Find out more on these stories below.
US Winter Olympic medallist charged with ripping off coronavirus relief fund and money laundering
The US Attorney’s Office in Utah announced the charges against Ms Allison Marie Baver in mid-December: one charge of money laundering and eight separate charges of making false statements to banks in 2020 by which she hoped to access loans from the US Government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers relief funding to small businesses who retained their employees during the pandemic.
Ms Baver, a 2010 US Winter Olympic speedskater who won a bronze medal in the 3000m relay event, allegedly made loan applications in the name of her company, Allison Baver Entertainment (ABE), from two banks in April 2020. ABE ultimately acquired a $10m (£7.53m) loan from Meridian Bank in early May 2020.
The indictment alleges that:
- ABE falsely claimed an average monthly payroll of between $4m and $4.8m (£3m-£3.6m), despite having no monthly payroll at all.
- ABE fraudulently claimed it employed between 100 to 430 employees, when in fact the company had none.
- ABE claimed it invested $150,000 (£112,93) in the production company behind the Elijah Wood film, “No Man of God”, about serial killer Ted Bundy.
Ms Baver, who is not the first speed skater to be embroiled in a finance scandal in 2021, is set for an arraignment hearing in January 2022.
Read more on this story at NBC News.
Indian authorities direct Hockey India to disclose details of suspicious international transactions
India’s Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered Hockey India, the administrative body for the sport in the country, to explain multiple international transfers between its foreign bank accounts, as well as several cash withdrawals made from its accounts. CIC commissioner Amita Pandove also directed the sports body to reveal the signatories to transactions involving its bank accounts.
Hockey India has previously declined to provide information on these points on the grounds of “commercial confidence”, citing a section of the country’s Right to Information Act (RTI). However, veteran RTI activist Subhas Agrawal filed an application in late 2019, seeking clarity about how Hockey India ran its finances internationally.
Mr Agrawal, whose formidable letter writing to editors previously saw him enter the Guinness Book of Records in 2006, successfully argued before the CIC Commissioner that Hockey India invoked the wrong part of the RTI Act. His application stated that the “larger public interest” section of the Act should have been applied, rendering the confidentiality question irrelevant.
The CIC also previously reprimanded Hockey India for refusing to disclose details about complimentary passes to matches in late 2018.
Read more on this story at Kashmir Reader.
Argentinian footballer’s money laundering charges stall his transfer to Juventus FC
Mauro Icardi, a striker for Paris Saint-Germain in France and an Argentinian international since 2013, faces charges of money laundering and tax evasion in his home country. Charged alongside him is his wife, Wanda Nara, who acts as his agent and business partner in their co-registered company, Work Marketing Football. The complaint against them was laid by Argentina’s Independent Association of Public Good.
The charges allege that Mr Icardi and Ms Nara siphoned their revenue through the company to dodge international tax requirements. As well as accusations of money laundering and tax evasion, disturbing claims of “institutional violence” and “structural corruption” have engulfed the couple and their company.
While it appears likely that Icardi will sign with Juventus, it will probably be on a loan deal for the veteran striker, who already sees little game time at his current club.
Read more on this story at Unionesarda.