MILAN — Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are to stand trial in court on Dec. 3.
Because they are charged with omitted and unfaithful earnings declaration, they are not to go through a preliminary hearing. The designers were originally absolved of the claims by a lower court in April 2011, but the Italian Supreme Court in November overturned that decision.
In February, the court laid out the reasons why it decided to reopen the case, alleging Dolce and Gabbana and several business associates evaded taxes. The Supreme Court said tax avoidance, or tax mitigation, on an earnings declaration is a criminal offense under the law. This is a major ruling since tax avoidance — which allows taxpayers to take advantage of certain benefits, such as creating a separate legal entity to which one’s property is donated, for example — previously was not considered a crime.
The designers did not respond to a request for comment at press time Monday.
The investigations began in 2008, initiated by the Guardia di Finanza, an Italian police force under the authority of the national minister of economy and finance. Both designers were charged with alleged tax evasion to the tune of 416 million euros, or $538.1 million at current exchange, related to the 2004 sale of the Dolce & Gabbana and D&G brands to the designers’ Luxembourg-based holding company, Gado Srl. The Italian tax police reportedly consider Gado essentially a legal entity used to avoid higher corporate taxes in Italy.
A separate criminal probe into supposed tax irregularities at the Dolce & Gabbana Group was part of the case dismissed in April. Those accusations address unpaid taxes of 200 million euros, or $258.7 million.
Giuseppe Bana, lawyer for the designers’ accountant Luciano Patelli, told WWD on Monday that he was “extremely optimistic” about the outcome of the trial, but said more details were going to be made available the following day.
A legal source said the trial will not allow for plea bargaining or the request for shortened or other alternative proceedings.
“I am optimistic and I consider them innocent until proven guilty,” said Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan consultancy InterCorporate. “It is easier to make headlines with an important and world famous name. Yes, it’s true that the fight against tax evasion is more severe now, but this seems a bit excessive.”
The designers have always denied any wrongdoing and in an interview with WWD in December, they expressed clear consciences and a lack of bitterness, albeit disappointment, over their battle with Italian authorities concerning the alleged tax evasion.
In April 2011, deeming there was no foundation for a trial, Judge Simone Luerti dismissed the charges against Dolce and Gabbana and five other defendants, including Dolce’s brother and board member, Alfonso Dolce, and managing director and board member Cristiana Ruella. However, Milan-based prosecutor Laura Pedio appealed to the Supreme Court, which issued its ruling after about six months.
Conviction of national income tax evasion can carry up to a three-year prison sentence, or a fine of up to 1 million euros, or $1.3 million at current exchange.
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)
20-year-old British singer @jorjasmith_ made her debut at Coachella last weekend. We caught up with her and talked about her love for Amy Winehouse, working with Kendrick Lamar on the “Black Panther” album and her fashion philosophy. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @katiedaisyla)
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)