Helio Castroneves has been indicted on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States of taxes on over $5 million of income.

According to the Reuters news agency, the Penske Racing ace - and his sister Katiucia - was also charged with six counts of income tax evasion between 1999 and 2004.

"Whether you make a living parking cars or racing them, paying taxes is a responsibility that everyone shares," US Attorney Alex Acosta told a news conference.

The indictment alleged that 33-year-old Castroneves, his sister and attorney Alan Miller used a Panamanian shell corporation to fraudulently conceal income that Castroneves earned as racer from the Internal Revenue Service. Miller was charged with conspiracy and three counts of tax evasion.

The indictment against Castroneves, currently preparing to take part in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, alleges that the Brazilian received $6 million over three years under a driving and licensing agreement with Penske Racing, but only reported $1 million on his tax returns.

The driver, his sister and the lawyer are also alleged to have schemed to divert the $5 million from a Panamanian shell corporation called Seven Promotions to a "deferred royalty plan" that required Penske to send the payment to a company in the Netherlands. Katiucia Castroneves allegedly helped prepare false income tax returns and transferred money to a Swiss bank account.

The indictment also alleged Castroneves collected $600,000 over three years from a sponsorship contract with the Brazilian import-export company Coimex Internacional SA, but reported only $50,000 on his tax returns.

Castroneves could face a maximum of 35 years in jail if found guilty on all charges, although any penalty is expected to be much less.

 

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