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The Party is Over on Italian Mega-Yachts After Major Clampdown on Tax Evaders

By Jennifer Shelley

Owning a luxurious yacht is one flashy way to signal to the rest of the world that you have a lot of money. Only the outrageously wealthy can afford a yacht, and everything that goes along with owning one. However, in Italy, there are concerns that along the absolutely stunning marinas and resorts are a growing number of tax evaders. According to the most recent figures available from the Agenzia delle Entrate, “which is Italy’s equivalent of the Inland Revenue, more than €124 billion, is evaded every year by Italians."1

On the dawn of Italy approving “austerity measures that include budget cuts of more than $29 billion,”2 an army of tax inspectors began a clampdown on tax evaders. The inspectors have been setting up “spot checks on yachts and in bars to make sure that people are paying what is due.” Close attention has been paid to Italy’s most popular tourist destinations like the Amalfi Coast and Sicily.

According to Quentin Bargate, senior partner with the London-based law firm Bargate Murray, “The seizure is sending shock waves through the super-yacht community.”3 The law firm has cautioned its clients to take care before venturing into Italian waters. Italy’s actions risk clearing out the lucrative yacht business that is of great benefit to local businesses.4

The crackdown on tax evaders really took force once the financial police went after Flavio Briatore, the former Formula One boss, whose £17 million yacht, Blue Force, was seized by Italian police, due to suspicions that he owed up to £3.5 million in unpaid taxes. The yacht, which Briatore uses to throw lavish parties, boasts first-class accommodations including, an outdoor Jacuzzi, an entertainment room with a massive plasma TV screen, a gym, sauna and spa.

Although Briatore has maintained his innocence from the moment his yacht was seized, for the time being it appears that the party is over on his magnificent 63-metre Blue Force.

For more information, please see:

1Nick Squires, Flavio Briatore's yacht seized over unpaid tax claims, TELGRAPH, Apr. 28, 2011.

2Guy Dinmore, Italy's Tax Crackdown Steers Away Superyachts, FINANCIAL TIMES, May 26, 2010.