Maurizio Parlato pleads guilty to a kickback scheme.
Just because one is in a position of power and influence does not mean they're above the law. Just ask now-former Ferrari CEO Maurizio Parlato. US federal prosecutors announced late last week that Parlato has pleaded guilty to two charges involving a kickback scheme regarding limited-edition supercar allocations. He specifically pleaded guilty to one count of failing to report a foreign bank account or financial account and another count of filing a false tax return.
"Today, the IRS told Mr. Parlato 'not so fast' when he failed to report almost $2.8 million on his tax returns for the kickbacks he received to misallocate the distribution of several supercars," said Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office. "Mr. Parlato tried to hide the income by moving the funds around the world. Offshore tax evasion is a top priority for IRS - Criminal Investigation and, as was shown today, we are wholeheartedly committed to bringing these offenders to justice."
The charge sheet does not specifically state which company Parlato was working for at the time, but it's common knowledge he served as CEO of Ferrari of North American beginning in 2002. He later left to work for Lotus in 2010 and in 2014 accepted the position of COO for Bugatti of the Americas. Last January, Bugatti announced Parlato's resignation for personal reasons. Now we know why.
The charging documents reveal that a new $1.4 million supercar debuted in 2013 and was limited to just 500 examples. The make and model weren't revealed but clearly it's describing the LaFerrari. Ferrari wasn't willing to sell its then-new halo hypercar to just anyone, but rather well-regarded alumni collectors, not speculators hoping to flip them for a quick and tidy profit. A preferred buyers list is standard Ferrari procedure. Parlato, however, took advantage of his position and insider industry knowledge.
"After resigning as CEO of Company B [Ferrari North America], Parlato assisted Company B dealers and supercar purchasers in misallocating supercars in exchange for kickback payments. Between 2015 and 2017, Parlato received approximately $2.8 million from Company B dealers and supercar purchasers in exchange for, among other things, assisting them in misallocating supercars to customers who were not on the list of approved purchasers," the feds announced.
The LaFerrari originally cost over $1.5 million when new but has since sold for far more at auction, in one case selling for $7 million - nearly five times the original price. Today, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale is the most expensive model in the lineup with a starting price of $625,000. Parlato now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine plus another penalty for failing to file an FBAR, a report for income earned abroad. That alone can be up to five years in prison. He's due to be sentenced on January 21, 2021.