Dead Countess's ex-lover wanted for alleged fraud

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Countess Agusta is thought to have fallen into the sea from her clifftop villa in Portofino. Photo: Aloa/Flickr
10:25 CEST+02:00
An arrest warrant has been issued for the former lover of Countess Francesca Vacca Agusta, who died under mysterious circumstances in 2001, Italian newspapers reported.

Genoa Prosecutor Francesco Cozzi last night said Maurizio Raggio is wanted for alleged tax fraud related to money and assets inherited from the countess.

Cozzi said that Raggio is considered to be “on the run” and “must respond to the crime of fraud”, according to a report in Leggo.

Raggio’s lawyer, Pasquale Tonani, is today expected to appeal against the arrest.

The suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the countess gripped Italy after her body was washed up in the sea off the south coast of France in February 2001.

A millionaire socialite and former model who had inherited the Augusta helicopter fortune, she disappeared from her clifftop villa in the luxury resort of Portofino a few weeks earlier.

Reports at the time said she was “drunk and depressed” and had left the villa to go for a swim.

The 58-year-old was initially thought to have drowned after falling from the parapet of her villa into the sea, but police later suspected murder after an autopsy concluded that she died of head injuries.

A few months before her disappearance, the countess is reported to have changed her will and came into €193 million after settling an inheritance dispute.

Married to Count Corrado Agusta for 18 years until 1988, the countess was described as a protagonist for Italy's dolce vita.

She met Raggio, a Portofino bar owner 15 years her junior, in the 1990s. The pair were later charged with assisting the disgraced former Socialist party leader, Bettino Craxi, to launder illicit funds worth billions. The countess was imprisoned for several years after being extradited from Mexico to Itay in 1997.

Raggio, described by Leggo as a ‘playboy’, inherited the countess’s villa, today estimated to be worth €40 million, following a long legal battle.

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He was also handed a string of other properties, but along with the windfall came a pile of debt related to unpaid taxes, a report on said.

The Portofino villa was put up for sale to settle the debts but remains unsold today. Raggio is now believed to be living in Miami, according to Oggi.

Although he was not at the villa on the night the countess disappeared, Raggio has been a focus of the unsolved mystery, the report added.

Raggio has also been at the centre of other legal wranglings, including the confiscation of his Italian and other foreign assets as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering.

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