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Italy launches 2 billion euro tax evasion probe

26 February 2010, 23:47 CET
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(MILAN) - Italy's tax agency and financial police said on Friday they were investigating more than 2,000 Italians for allegedly evading more than 2.0 billion euros in tax, hiding the money in tax havens abroad.

The operation is geared towards "retreiving large sums of money discovered in 'tax havens' and taken away from Italians's pockets," said the tax agency in a statement.

"The people that are being investigated by the revenue office are strongly suspected of having evaded and tranfered very large sums abroad: the consequences will be serious for those who are not able to demonstrate the regularity of the operations" said the statement.

Most of those involved reside in Italy's rich northern regions and near Italy's capital, Rome. The only region not involved in the probe is the "virtuous" tiny northern region Valle D'Aosta, said the statement.

Italy has intensified its fight against tax evasion over the last few years in parallel with a tax amnesty that allows Italians to legally bring back goods and capitals into the country.

The amnesty, originally set to last three months until mid-December, was extended until the end of April.

In December the total value of goods and capitals brought back to Italy amounted to 95 billion euros (130 billion dollars), which brought 5.0 billion euros into the Italian state coffers, much needed in light of Italy's large public debt.

Italy's public debt has been among the highest in the world for years, ballooning 5.8 percent in 2009 to 1.76 trillion euros, about 115 percent of gross national product in 2009.


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