Juventus will face a hearing with CONI in April as they try to appeal the penalty given to them for capital gains fraud in January. The Bianconeri currently have a 15-point penalty after they were found guilty of inflating the market values of several players and the previous board was forced to resign in November 2022 once news of the investigation broke out.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, there is an extensive process to go through before Juventus discover the result of their appeal and also hear if they face greater punishment for financial fraud.
When will the process start?
Marco Picco, the Judge for Preliminary Investigations, will have to make a decision on March 27 regarding the indictment request formulated for Juventus – as a legal entity – and 12 former Bianconeri executives including Andrea Agnelli and Pavel Nedved.
These are the effects of the Prisma investigation by the Turin Prosecutor’s Office, consisting of prosecutors Ciro Santoriello, Mario Bendoni and assistant prosecutor Marco Gianoglio. The crimes being contested are false corporate communications, obstructing the exercise of the functions of public supervisory authorities, market manipulation, and fraudulent declaration through the use of invoices or other documents for non-existent transactions.
How will the decision of the Judge of the Preliminary Hearing affect the CONI Collegio di Garanzia hearing?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this. When looking at it based on codes, the outcome from the preliminary hearing should not have an impact on the Collegio di Garanzia hearing at the CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) on April 19. The Court of Appeal’s ruling is based on balance, weighing the concept of ‘management violations’ against the ‘lack of fairness’.
However, the investigation of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office led by Giuseppe Chine is based predominantly on wiretaps sent from Turin. If the indictment did not arrive, the affair would lose the context in which the harsh penalties of the Court of Appeal judges were given.
Who won the prologue to the battle of the COVISOC papers?
Juventus seemed to have earned an early victory when they won a challenge against the TAR (Regional Administrative Court) and finally gained access to the two disputed letters that should have been backdated at the start of the investigation.
This appeal had been made by the lawyers and consultants of former Bianconeri directors Fabio Paratici and Federico Cherubini. Then, when the contents of the emails were revealed – both with COVISOC’s request to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Chine’s response – there is no clear winner.
In the two letters, Juventus is not mentioned at all and it is difficult to find the notitia criminis. However, in the 100 pages of the Juve appeal, there is also much more. In particular, in the initial act of referral the club did not contest Article 4, later revealed to be the crux of the conviction, but only to the directors as well as those with signatory powers on behalf of the club.
What can the CONI Collegio di Garanzia do?
According to CONI’s Code of Sporting Justice, “The appeal is admitted exclusively for violation of rules of law, as well as for omitted or insufficient motivation on a decisive point of the dispute that has been disputed between the papers.”
There are four potential scenarios: the appeal is judged inadmissible; it is admissible but is rejected; it is upheld and the ruling is annulled; or it is sent back to the sender, which is the Federal Court of Appeal in this case, indicating the issue on which it will have to provide a better justification of the decision, possibly changing it.
In the last two cases, the 15 points would be reinstated for Juventus or a new ruling will be required.
What is the situation on both the manoeuvres of salaries and ‘dodgy partnerships’?
Prosecutor Chine has received another thousand pages of documents from Turin, and has requested a further extension of the investigation, the last one that can be granted. This time will expire at the end of March.
At that point, the potential defendants will have additional time to submit briefs to convince the Public Prosecutor’s Office to avoid referrals. Certainly, this turning point will be reached before the hearing of the Collegio di Garanzia on April 19.
What is at the heart of the accusation and the risks for Juventus?
At the centre of it all are the club-player agreements outside the prescribed channels (Lega Serie A and FIGC). Also at risk is the possible involvement of the players who signed the papers and who could incur disqualification for ‘at least one month’ unless they can prove a kind of unawareness of the signed paper.
As for the club, a possible fine had been speculated, but there is always the ‘lack of fairness’ lurking. It is certainly unlikely that a confirmation of the 15-point penalty for capital gains will be joined by a further penalty. Keep in mind, this starts with the Federal Court (first instance) and not the Court of Appeal (second instance).
When will the Juventus case reach its conclusion?
Criminal and administrative justice aside, it is hoped that the scenario about the payroll situation is laid to rest, one way or another. Although there is also UEFA, which has decided to wait for the Italian sporting justice system to reach its own conclusion for now.