Lorenzo hits back at ‘nightmare witch hunt’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo has issued a statement in the wake of his most recent battle with Spanish tax authorities.

Having been cleared of tax evasion across the 2013-2016 period - which could have totalled a bill reaching €46m - the triple MotoGP Champion set the record straight on the strain the investigation had placed on him, especially during competition.

“In view of the recent news regarding the judicial disputes that I have faced against the Spanish Tax Authorities, I want to write you a few lines to give you my vision of what has happened,” Lorenzo’s statement read.

“As you all know, many years ago I decided to move to Lugano, a small but modern Swiss city barely an hour from Milan. I moved there, like many other athletes, because I needed the tranquillity that the town offered me when I wasn’t traveling halfway around the world and because of the possibility of training at the Yamaha team facilities (60 km from my home). And of course, I also appreciated the tax regime that it offers its citizens, much more reasonable and less aggressive and confiscatory than that of other countries.

“In June 2017, the Spanish Tax Authorities opened a tax audit challenging my status as a Swiss tax resident. The assessment ended up covering 2013 to 2016. Despite the fact that the Swiss authorities insisted that my situation was perfectly legal, the Spanish Tax Authorities always questioned everything. Thus, they sent hundreds of requests to my sponsors and teams, seeking not only information but also my discredit in front of public opinion, making me appear in the media as a tax evader. They even went so far as to send some agents to the paddock itself to force me to sign a document. These people blocked my exit when I was going to get on the bike minutes before the start of a race. Likewise, I had to advance the money they demanded from me, to avoid embargoes and humiliating situations (such as appearing on the list of fraudsters). A real scorn.

“I have suffered a lot these five and a half years. As a professional, I have always tried to stay focused on the races by isolating myself from the noise of third parties. But I must admit that the pressure and anguish that this unfair and twisted persecution of the Spanish Tax Authorities caused me ended up affecting my professional life. They defeated me emotionally (unlike other competitors never did).

“A year and a half ago, at the end of June 2021, already retired from the competition, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The Court upheld with my lawyer’s compelling arguments regarding the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. And naturally, they returned the money that I had advanced. Yet, I never got any kind of repair for the damage caused. No compensation for damages. Not an apology, public or private, letter or telephone call. Nothing.

“In December, a new pronouncement regarding 2016 was issued. I am confident that this nightmare will end now. Taxes are necessary and if the money is well managed by the Administration (which is not always the case), contributing is something to be proud of. Nevertheless, taxes must be paid wherever you live.

“The Spanish Tax Authorities started a witch hunt and thought they had found a scapegoat. They were wrong. Of course, nobody is going to give me back the sleepless nights or the peace I needed to concentrate on the circuits.”