Tax fraud charge against Hass

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> A NASCAR team owner is accused of defrauding the government of more than $20 million in taxes.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Los Angeles:

A NASCAR team owner is accused of defrauding the government of more than $20 million in taxes. Gene Haas, the 54-year-old owner of Oxnard-based Haas Automation and NASCAR's Haas CNC Racing, was arrested on Monday for investigation of conspiracy, filing false tax returns and witness intimidation. Charges filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office accuse Haas of orchestrating a plan to list $50 million in bogus expenses that could be written off as business costs and save the company $20 million in taxes. Haas was being held without bail. CNC Racing fields the No. 66 Nextel Cup car driven by Jeff Green, and Johnny Sauter's No. 00 Busch Series car. Not guilty Haas Automation, which makes computerized machine tools, said in a statement that Haas was not guilty and that the tax issues "revolve around" the company's former financial officer, John Phillips. Last month, Haas Automation by default won a Ventura County Superior Court lawsuit accusing Phillips of cheating the company out of $27.5 million. The transactions described in the lawsuit are among those listed in the federal indictment, said Peter Zierhut, a Haas Automation spokesman. Phillips, who is an unindicted coconspirator, went to the FBI in April 2001 claiming Haas ordered him to cheat the government out of more than $8.9 million in taxes, the Justice Department said. The owner of Supermill Inc., a nonexistent Nevada company that allegedly issued fake bills to Haas Automation, agreed to plead guilty to two tax evasion charges, the Justice Department said. Haas Automation's former general manager, Denis Dupuis, and a former salesman, Robert Cable, also were indicted in connection with the purported scheme. The company, formed in 1983, employs 1,000 people and had revenues of more than $500 million last year, said Robert Murray, the firm's general manager. The New York Times described the firm as the America's largest computerized machine tool maker. (AP)