Italy’s Biggest Tax Fraud Trial Date Set

August 13, 2010 Taxation in Italy

ChamberSilvio Scaglia, the thirteenths richest man in Italy, among 35 other high-profile individuals have been given a court date to defend themselves in the largest tax fraud case in Italian history, after months of legally dubious detention.

On November 2nd thirty six individuals will begin trial proceedings in front of the Italian courts, facing allegations of tax fraud, conspiracy to commit tax fraud, and money laundering. The state prosecutor is contesting that the illicit actions were carried out by or under the approval of the defendants through two Italian companies, Fastweb and Telecom Italia Sparkle, and amounted to an approximate EUR 2 billion of laundered funds and Value Added Tax (VAT) fraud, over the period of three years, through a series of fake transactions to conduit companies. Both Fastweb and Telecom Italia Sparkle, have issued statements that they did not perpetrate the offenses, and are, in fact, victims of fraud themselves.

The trial date was spurned by the state prosecutor, who requested to “fast track” proceedings, skipping preliminary hearings. In response, Silvio Scaglia’s legal defense team issued a statement saying that the Fastweb founder and the other defendants welcome the development as they have been under preventative custody and house arrest for nearly six months, despite no evidence or charges being brought forward by the state. Mr Scaglia’s legal team are now pursuing a lift of the house arrest orders, as they hold no legal justification. They added, “Mr. Scaglia has the right to appear in Court as a free man and we cannot understand why he should be denied his fundamental right to liberty in the days prior to the trial.”

The prosecution has not yet revealed the names of all 36 suspects, although several high-profile figures have come to be revealed. Silvio Scaglia, founder of Fastweb, in particular, has become a figurehead for the proceedings, due to the flimsy legal basis of his detention. Gennaro Mokbel, head of an Italian rightwing political party, and his wife Giorgia Ricci have also been identified. Four former managers of Fastweb, and two ex-managers of Telecom Italia are believed to be among the suspects.

Photo by publicenergy