Leeds owner Massimo Cellino fined €40,000 over car tax evasion

Cellino found guilty in a Sardinian court

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The Independent Football

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has been found guilty of tax evasion and fined 40,000 euros in an Italian court, according to reports in Sardinia.

Cellino has been convicted for failing to pay VAT on an imported Range Rover in a court in Cagliari, according to Italian news website L'Union Sarda.it.

The 58-year-old, who recently served a four-month ban by the Football League for failing to pay tax on a yacht, was acquitted of customs offences on the Range Rover, which had been imported from the United States.

Cellino may now face investigation by the Football League to establish whether this latest conviction was confirmed by the court judge to be a dishonest act.

The same judge in Cagliari, Dr Sandra Lepore, convicted Cellino of tax evasion in relation to his yacht, Nelie, last year and fined him 600,000 euros.

That conviction led to the former Cagliari owner being disqualified from having any executive influence at Leeds for four months by the Football League-.

The League ruled that because the tax offence involving the yacht Nelie had been confirmed by the Italian judge to have been a dishonest act, Cellino failed its Owners and Directors test.

Cellino was banned in December and failed to have his disqualification overturned at a Football League hearing in January.

The ban was extended until the end of the season as a result of Cellino's failure to disclose court documents, which confirmed non-payment of tax on Nelie had been a dishonest act.

Cellino returned to office at Leeds following the expiry of his ban on May 3 and has since had his Leeds ownership status approved by the League.

He is currently appealing against his disqualification through the Football Association's arbitration process.

Cellino's legal team claimed the guilty verdict against him in Italy over his yacht Nelie should not be classed as a formal conviction until it has passed through three stages of appeal, an argument which was turned down when he challenged his League disqualification earlier this year.

The former Cagliari owner also faces a separate court hearing in Italy for tax evasion in relation to a second yacht, Lucky 23, in October.

That case was adjourned until October 16 earlier this month.

News website Cagliaripad reported the yacht Lucky 23 had been imported from the US to Italy in a container in May 2011 and that Cellino had been charged with failing to pay 84,122 euros on tax duty.

PA

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