Juventus’ preliminary hearing is postponed until May 10 as a host of former directors – including Tottenham chief Fabio Paratici – wait to find out if they will stand trial in investigation for ‘false accounting’ and ‘market manipulation’
- Juventus have been accused of understating financial losses to balance books
- Ex-chairman Andrea Agnelli and 11 other officials are at the centre of allegations
- The hearing, which was delayed on Monday, is expected to last several months
A judge in Turin on Monday began examining whether 12 former Juventus officials – including ex-chairman Andrea Agnelli and sporting director Fabio Paratici – and the club itself should face trial over allegations of false accounting and market manipulation at Italy’s most successful football club.
On the first day of a hearing behind closed doors, initial procedural issues were addressed before adjournment until May 10. The hearing is expected to last several months, after which judge Marco Picco will decide whether to order a trial.
Last December, prosecutors requested to send all the defendants to trial after investigating the club’s accounting and statements made to financial markets in three recent years.
Turin prosecutors allege the club understated its financial losses in order to balance the books for three seasons – 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21.
As part of the investigation, they have been looking into the values ascribed to player transfers between clubs and whether, as stated, salaries were sacrificed during the COVID-19 pandemic or simply deferred.
Juventus’ preliminary hearing in the Prisma investigation – which sees Fabio Paratici (pictured) and 11 other former officials accused of false accounting – has been postponed until May 10
Former chairman Andrea Agnelli (second from left) and vice-president Pavel Nedved (left) are also at the centre of the allegations
Juventus, who are accused of false corporate communications, false communications to the stock market and obstruction of a supervisory authority, have denied wrongdoing and said their accounting is in line with industry standards.
Monday’s preliminary hearing was due to determine whether the 12 former Juventus executives and directors accused of the alleged malpractice should be made to stand trial. All of them deny any wrongdoing.
As well as Agnelli and Paratici, former vice-president and legendary midfielder Pavel Nedved has been implicated along with CEO Maurizio Arrivabene.
Agnelli quit as chairman, resigning along with the rest of the club board in late November, days before the prosecutors’ request for a trial.
Paratici’s involvement comes at the worst time imaginable for Tottenham, where he has spent close to two years as sporting director. On Sunday night the club parted company with Antonio Conte one week after he launched an astonishing attack on his players and chairman Daniel Levy, forcing him to leave by mutual consent eight days later, and Paratici will be heavily involved in finding his successor.
Despite leaving the Old Lady to join Spurs back in 2021, allegations of malpractice continue to hang over the 50-year-old, who was banned from holding any post in Italian football for 30 months back in January.
At the end of the first day of the hearing, Picco accepted a request by some minority shareholders to hold Juventus and auditing firm Ernst&Young liable to them for damages, should the club be found guilty.
The case has stirred strong feelings in Italy. Juventus, owned by the Agnelli family for a century, enjoy wide support around the country but their wealth and success have also stoked resentment from fans of rival teams.
Paratici’s involvement adds to the drama surrounding Spurs, who parted company with head coach Antonio Conte (R) on Sunday
One of three prosecutors in charge of the case last week stood down from the proceedings after the emergence of previous derogatory comments he made about Juventus and his stated support for Serie A rivals Napoli.
The Turin criminal investigation has triggered a separate inquiry over the club’s finances by Italy’s sports authority, which resulted in a 15-point deduction for Juventus this season.
After the hearing was postponed on Monday, one of Juventus’ lawyers outlined the next steps in the proceeding.
‘We are still in a phase where the parts involved are being identified,’ Maurizio Bellacosa told reporters.
‘It will be completed in the next hearing on May 10, and, if there is time, the preliminary hearing will immediately begin, also deciding on the territorial jurisdiction.’
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