MILAN — In the second-to-last hearing in the Marzotto tax trail on Wednesday, Matteo Marzotto and his sister Diamante’s lawyer, Paolo De Capitani, requested Judge Orsola De Cristofaro acquit his clients for not having committed the fact, contending there is no case to answer. De Capitani’s speech followed that of his colleague Alessandra Mereu last month, who had also asked for the defendants to be fully acquitted in response to prosecutor Gaetano Ruta’s statements seeking one year and four months in prison for the Marzottos and defendant Massimo Caputi. The defendants are accused of alleged omission of earnings declaration and tax evasion.
The allegations involve the Marzotto family’s association with the sale of Valentino Fashion Group to private equity fund Permira Advisers LLC in May 2007 for more than 782 million euros, or $864 million at current exchange rate. According to the indictment, taxes on the profit derived from the transaction were never paid in Italy.
De Capitani highlighted the role London-based consultants, the “Roma brothers,” played. He said they suggested setting up a vehicle, International Capital Growth (ICG) that would regroup family shares and be based in Luxembourg because of the country’s simpler rules and because it would help to attract international financial operators. ICG is the firm that Italy’s tax police believe to be a fictitious entity based in Luxembourg and managed in Milan and allegedly created for the purpose of selling 29.9 percent of Valentino. “This was only a defensive move [regrouping all shareholders]” that would allow to control the Valentino firm. De Capitani said shareholders were not looking to sell Valentino, and reminded the Judge that witnesses had said banks approached the former owners of the brand, not the other way around, finding a way between different partners. He reiterated that Permira was also negotiating with former VFG chairman Antonio Favrin and shareholder Dario Segre through their vehicle Canova, but never reached an agreement, “because Favrin wanted to maintain control.”
De Capitani noted that the Marzotto siblings first signed the shareholders’ agreement in October 2006 and then “vanish from the scene — there is no other appearance at ICG,” underscoring that they were not administrators of the holding, a role held by president Pierre Kladny. “Regrouping the shares [in Valentino in a holding ] in Luxembourg is perfectly legitimate, even if only for a fiscal advantage, as long as [the holding] is not a screen or a ghost company,” observed De Capitani.
The lawyer also noted that the fee paid to the advisers was “higher than the taxes that should [allegedly ] have been paid.”
De Cristofaro said she would not be ready with a verdict on Dec. 4, the day that had been previously scheduled to conclude the trial.
The final hearing was postponed to Jan. 13.