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Italian police seize Briatore's yacht

ESPNF1 Staff
May 23, 2010 « New bidder emerges for US Grand Prix | »
Busy going nowhere: Flavio Braitore's million yacht © Sutton Images

Flavio Briatore has had his $25 million yacht seized by Italian police over allegations he owes several million dollars in unpaid taxes.

Armed officers from Italy's tax police boarded the Cayman Islands-registered Force Blue while it was in the port of La Spezia on the Italian Riviera. Briatore was not believed to have been on board at the time although his wife and two-month old son were.

Aside from unpaid tax which largely results from chartering the boat, which has a crew of 17, at $300,000 a week, it is also claimed it refuelled in EU waters without paying VAT which could total as much as one million dollars.

"This operation has been going on for a year and ended with the impounding of Flavio Briatore's yacht Force Blue," Captain Giuseppe Pappalardo, of the Italian Financial Police, told reporters. "In essence the crime of contraband is suspected because Mr Briatore is an EU citizen and the boat is registered out of the European Union; if he uses it in European waters than VAT is payable. Foreign registered boats are exempt from fuel taxes but only if they leave EU waters within eight hours of filling up."

Video footage released by the Italian authorities showed officers in high-speed patrol boats approaching and then boarding the yacht.