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JANUARY 27, 2011

Italians chase Briatore tax

Reports from Italy say that authorities have frozen €1.5 million from bank accounts held by Flavio Briatore in Italy and Monaco.

The former Benetton/Renault boss last year had his luxury yacht, Force Blue, impounded while the police and tax authorities investigated suspicions of the vessel's improper registration as a charter with attendant tax breaks when in fact, they alleged, it was being used solely for personal use. The authorities also claimed that Briatore owed the government VAT on the yacht and its fuel.

"This operation was ongoing for a year and resulted in the impounding of Flavio Briatore's yacht," Italian police chief Captain Giuseppe Pappalardo told reporters. "Basically it is a matter of contraband because Signor Briatore is an EU citizen and the boat has been registered outside the European Union, so if he uses it in European waters then VAT applies. Foreign-registered boats are exempt from fuel taxes but only if they leave EU waters within eight hours of refuelling."

Briatore is currently believed to be at his Kenyan estate with model wife Elisabetta and their son.