Fraud Probe Cops Seize Playboy's Pounds 15m Yacht; Wife and Son on Board during Dramatic Chase

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), May 22, 2010 | Go to article overview

Fraud Probe Cops Seize Playboy's Pounds 15m Yacht; Wife and Son on Board during Dramatic Chase


Byline: Nick Pisa

A pounds 15MILLION yacht owned by millionaire playboy Flavio Briatore was seized yesterday by cops probing a massive tax fraud.

Briatore's wife, former TV star Elisabetta Gregoraci - who at 28 is 30 years younger than him - was on board the 60m long yacht Force Blue with the couple's two-monthold son Falcon Nathan when officers arrived just after dawn.

They had authority from a local prosecutor who ordered the boat to be impounded as part of the probe that centres on its status as a yacht available for charter.

According to prosecutors in Genoa on the Italian Riviera, Briatore claims the yacht is available for hire at pounds 240,000 a week.

Briatore says that because of this the yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands, entitling him to a favourable tax break.

But prosecutor Walter Cotugno is probing claims that there is no evidence of it being chartered and that Briatore and his wife spend a large part of the year on board.

Yesterday, Italian customs officials were said to be looking at fining Briatore pounds 3.5million for improper use of the Force Blue.

He is alleged to have also evaded pounds 700,000 VAT on fuel for the yacht, claiming it was for "charter use" and therefore exempt for 20 per cent Italian VAT.

Last week, the boat was moored off Monte Carlo for the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Every summer Briatore and his wife are regularly seen hosting lavish parties as they cruise the Mediterranean.

Officers on high speed boats pursued Force Blue for several miles this morning before it slowed off the port of La Spezia, near Genoa, and was boarded. …

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