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CORRECTED: Italian police seize Bulgari-linked assets

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Italian financial police said Thursday that they have sequestered assets worth 46 million euros ($60 million) owned by executives at luxury group Bulgari accused of tax evasion.

The action concerned bank accounts, insurance policies, shareholdings and real estate, a police statement said.

The assets belong to Bulgari brothers Paolo and Nicola, along with the group's financial head Maurizio Valentini and acting chief executive Francesco Trapani, who is also head of the watches and jewelry division at LVMH, the French luxury group that bought Bulgari in 2011.

The four have been accused of avoiding Italian taxes via fraudulent declarations of around three billion euros in sales through companies based in the Netherlands and Ireland.

Funds involved were also allegedly transferred through companies controlled in Switzerland by the four accused, the Italian police said.

Bulgari insisted in a statement later Thursday that the foreign units in question held a "quite real and strategic importance" to the Bulgari group.

"In consequence, the accusations are unfounded, which will be proven to the competent authorities," the company said while accusing police of notifying news media of the allegations before the individuals involved.

When reports emerged more than two months ago that Bulgari was under investigation, Trapani, who ran the company for almost 30 years, said "it always respected fiscal rules in Italy and abroad."

Claiming that Bulgari has been the target of "dozens and dozens of fiscal controls," Trapani had then called the police charges "grotesque and unfounded" and maintained that the controls had always cleared the company of any wrongdoing.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130314/corrected-italian-police-seize-bulgari-linked-assets