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MILAN — Several Italian designers, including Valentino Garavani and Gianni Bulgari, allegedly appear on the list of Swiss bank HSBC account holders stolen by former employee Hervé Falciani, according to media reports here.
This story first appeared in the January 13, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Falciani, based in HSBC’s Geneva offices, pocketed 127,000 files of bank accounts in 2008 with the intention of selling the information. He is now collaborating with the French police, according to Italy’s daily Corriere della Sera, and, in turn, Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, an Italian police force under the authority of the national Minister of Economy and Finance, has obtained a list of 6,963 financial positions for a total of more than $6.9 billion dating back to the 2005 to 2007 period.
More than 700 people are being investigated for omitted or incomplete fiscal declarations, but they will be interrogated to ascertain whether they have already cleared their position. In 2009, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi granted a tax amnesty to Italians who had foreign accounts. They had until April 2010 to settle and pay a 5 percent fine.
A comment from Garavani was not available at press time, but in connection with a $45 million fine issued in 2009 to the designer and his longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, for allegedly evading tax payments in Italy, their lawyer, Marino Bastianini, stated that both parties have been residents of the U.K. for almost a decade and have “in that period always declared and been subject to tax in the United Kingdom, which included taxation of the consultancy income received from the Valentino company. The dispute with the Italian authorities is in essence not about tax evasion but related to the interpretation of facts and circumstances concerning tax residency. The issue has been [the] subject of a previous investigation in Italy and the U.K. and on both occasions the U.K. residency has been considered in full compliance with the Italian and U.K. tax regime, thus acknowledging the legitimacy of their U.K. residency.” Bastianini said the issue “disregarded some elements which were previously taken into consideration.”
Gianni Bulgari left the famed family jeweler in the Eighties, is no longer a shareholder of the company and controls his own jewelry brand, Enigma. According to Corriere, two firms, Gianni Bulgari Srl and Bulgari International, are on the list, together with Pietro Hausmann, of the historic Roman watch store Hausmann. Bulgari told WWD that he “has not been a client of the bank for 15 years now” and that he has “not been an Italian resident for more than 15 years.”
Among the names of entrepreneurs, managers, actors and blue-blooded aristocrats allegedly on the list are Rome-based couturier Renato Balestra and Edda Lancetti, sister of the late Dolce Vita designer Pino Lancetti.