The Bulgari Group tax trial began Tuesday in Rome — but only formally.
In light of the international pool of defendants and witnesses, during a quick session, Judge Bernadette Nicotra requested the registry of court to provide an interpreter to translate Italian documents in English and to be available throughout the trial. It is understood the first hearing is unlikely to take place before January.
As reported, brothers Paolo and Nicola Bulgari, former chief executive officer Francesco Trapani and 10 company executives have been indicted. The charges refer to the 2006 to 2008 period, before LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s acquisition of the Italian jeweler.
Bulgari settled its tax case with Italy’s internal revenue service last year, but a penal trial would run its course independently. In February 2014, while insisting it remained “certain of being in the right,” Bulgari Group agreed to pay 42 million euros, or $57.2 million, to Italy’s tax agency. Bulgari and the agency settled on a payment of 28 million euros, or $38.1 million, but the addition of taxes, interest and other fines brought the total amount to 42 million euros.
The internal revenue service’s investigations were focused on alleged fraudulent earnings declarations and evasion of tax payments of around 3 billion euros, or $4.08 billion, starting from 2006, through a system of allegedly fictitious companies in the Netherlands and Ireland, set up in order to avoid paying taxes in Italy, where the tax rate is higher.
Bulgari, which is being defended by Paola Severino, a former Minister of Justice under the Mario Monti government, reiterated in May that “the foreign companies were effectively operative,” and had more than 300 employees.