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Businessman and ex-MotoGP rider latest victims of tax office crackdown on fraud

Former motorcycling star Sete Gibernau had claimed he was resident in Switzerland

Ex-MotoGP star Sete Gibernau, who is suspected of dodging taxes totaling nearly three million euros. TONI ALBIR (EFE)

The Barcelona public prosecutor is bringing legal action in two separate cases against Ricardo Rodrigo, president of RBA editorial group, and Sete Gibernau, former motorcycle rider, over tax evasion. The move is part of a tax office drive to crack down on fraud, given the fall in tax income due to the crisis.

The Argentinean-born businessman, who is in charge of one of Spain's biggest communication groups, allegedly evaded 2.3 million euros between 2005 and 2008, while Gibernau is accused of defrauding 2.8 million euros.

Reports from the tax office reveal that Rodrigo used a shell company to evade corporate income tax. That company invoiced RBA supposedly for editorial consultancy services, and registered income while deducting expenses. But in reality, the invoicing corresponded to members of Rodrigo's personal domestic staff. Fraud for the 2005 tax year prescribes this summer, which explains why the investigation has been speeded up.

Sete Gibernau's assets have also been examined by inspectors. The former MotoGP rider had declared his place of residence as Switzerland, but the tax office found out that Gibernau was in fact living in Esplugues de Llobregat, a Barcelona municipality. Between 2005 and 2006, Gibernau supposedly defrauded ¤2.8 million, most of which was through income tax: 1.8 million euros in 2005 and 550,000 euros the following year, when he announced he would be quitting motorcycle racing.