Stefano Gabbana, of the legendary fashion duo Dolce & Gabbana, has attacked a decision by a Milan court forcing the pair to pay a fine of 343.3 million euros (£290 million) for tax evasion, saying the accusations against them are “untrue”.
“To be accused of something untrue is not a beautiful thing. But in the end who cares, we will all finish up six feet under,” Gabbana said in a personal Twitter tirade after the court rejected the celebrated stylists’ appeal.
“I am interested in making clothes and that’s all. They can do and say what they want,” he added.
The icons of Italian fashion lost their appeal on Friday in a lengthy court case in which they are accused of evading more than 400 million euros in taxes after selling their D&G and Dolce & Gabbana brands to a holding company, Gado, they established in Luxembourg in 2004. They have been ordered to pay 343.4 million euros plus interest.
Prosecutors say the complex arrangement enabled the world-famous duo, Gabbana and business partner Domenico Dolce, whose clients include Madonna, Scarlett Johanssen and Angelina Jolie, to avoid hefty Italian taxes and pay a lower tax rate in Luxembourg.
Investigations into Dolce & Gabbana’s operations began in 2007. While a court initially cleared the partners of the allegations, Italy’s highest court overturned that acquittal in November 2011 and ordered that the case be sent back to trial.
In the latest decision the Milan provincial tax commission rejected an appeal by the designers and ruled in favour of Italy’s tax authority, Agenzia delle Entrate.
In its findings, the commission found “conduct of abuse with the only goal of obtaining a fiscal advantage”.
Investigators claimed the price at which the companies were sold – 360 million euros – to the holding company was about one third of their true market value.
The designers have always denied the allegations and said the charges were based on “a completely abstract calculation” of their companies’ value.
Apart from the massive fine, the business partners face prison sentences of up to five years if found guilty. It is unclear whether the fashion designers will take the latest decision to the next level of appeal.
The case attracted a great deal of interest in Italy since technocrat government of prime minister Mario Monti adopted a hardline on tax avoidance last hear. Finance police and tax inspectors conducted a number of high-profile raids across the country in a bid to clamp down on a black economy estimated to account for 17 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product.
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