Jan 12, 2011
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Fashion king Valentino caught up in tax inquiry

Jan 12, 2011

Fashion king Valentino Garavani appears on a star-studded list of Italians who allegedly held secret offshore bank accounts and are now under investigation, newspapers in Italy reported on Wednesday.

Valentino Garavani

The 700 people being investigated by the Rome prosecutor's office are accused of holding secret offshore accounts in Switzerland, according to data stolen from a Swiss unit of HSBC bank by an IT worker four years ago.

The list, which has already caused a wave of scandals across Europe and North America, contains the names of almost 7,000 Italian account holders but prosecutors are starting their inquiries with those registered in Rome.

The names reported in Italian newspapers included several fashion and film world celebrities and top business figures such as fashion designer Renato Balestra and Gianni Bulgari, the former head of the famous jewellery company.

But the majority of the names are those of wealthy, lesser-known individuals including Rome city centre shopkeepers, the reports said.

Italian investigators earlier said that the sum held by Italians in the accounts on the HSBC list added up to 6.9 billion dollars (5.3 billion euros) and that 132 of the accounts held sums of more than 10 million dollars.

Italy is cracking down on tax evasion to boost state coffers at a difficult time for its public finances.

An amnesty law that ran out last year allowed Italians with foreign accounts to repatriate their money by paying a fine.

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