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Prosecutor Seeking 9 Years Jail Time in Burani Case

It is widely believed Giovanni Burani masterminded the expansion of the firm, piling up debt and dabbling too freely and creatively with finances.

MILAN — Two years into the Mariella Burani Fashion Group’s fraudulent bankruptcy trial, prosecutor Luigi Orsi has asked a Milan court to sentence founder Walter Burani and his son Giovanni, former chief executive officer, to nine years in jail.

A legal source said Orsi described the Burani management as “a systematic fraud marked by a very significant criminal attitude.” It is widely believed Giovanni Burani masterminded the expansion of the firm into an apparel and accessories conglomerate in the early years of the Naughts, piling up debt and dabbling too freely and creatively with finances, according to sources.

The next hearing is expected to take place in mid-September with the claims of the plaintiffs and the defendants.

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development granted bankruptcy protection to MBFG in March 2010 and appointed three administrators to manage the group, which was weighed down by debts of more than $600 million. Giovanni Burani served a two-month prison sentence in summer 2010, while his father was under house arrest as part of a wider ongoing investigation into fraudulent bankruptcy. Orsi has also been investigating Burani Designer Holding, parent company of MBFG, for fraudulent bankruptcy.

Last month, after two years of government-backed bankruptcy protection, a court in Reggio Emilia, Italy, filed bankruptcy proceedings for Mariella Burani Fashion Group. This ends the state-appointed administrators’ efforts to sell the fashion group and safeguard its almost 200 employees.

MBFG, which was once listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, produces the Mariella Burani brand and collections for Ungaro and Matthew Williamson under licensing agreements.