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Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud

UPDATED: Italy's World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro is being investigated on suspicion of running a sham company to avoid paying more than €1 million in tax, Italian authorities announced on Wednesday.

Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud
Fabio Cannavaro led Italy to glory in Germany in 2006. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

The former centreback, who led Italy to glory in Germany in 2006, has had property and other assets worth €900,000 confiscated in connection with an ongoing probe into a luxury boat rental business that Cannavaro, 41, ran with his wife.

In a statement, prosecutors in Cannavaro's home city of Naples, said they suspected that three multi-million-euro vessels supposedly available for rental through the company were in fact exclusively for the couple's private use.

As such, Cannavaro and his wife, Daniela Arenoso, 40, should have declared them as taxable assets and not been able to benefit from the various tax breaks for which only companies are eligible.

Tax inspectors have estimated that the operation of what was effectively a sham company, FD Service, enabled the couple to avoid more than €1 million in taxes and VAT between 2005 and 2010.

The prosecutors said that they had obtained evidence of Cannavaro's direct involvement in the fraud and of other, unspecified, illegal actions in relation to the company.

Also under investigation is Eugenio Tuccillo, described by prosecutors as an individual of limited means to whom Cannavaro sold the business shortly after the opening of the tax probe.

Almost immediately after taking over, Tuccillo put the company into administration in what inspectors suspect was an attempt to hide the fraud.

A national sport

In an illustrious playing career, Cannavaro played for Napoli, Parma, Internazionale, Juventus and Real Madrid before a final stint with Al-Ahli in Dubai, where he is currently assistant coach.

His movie-star looks, 136 caps and rise from the back streets of Naples to the summit of world football have made him a national icon in Italy, a country that prizes defenders like no other.

Famed for being as tough on the pitch as the teak on one of his boats, Cannavaro had, until now, also enjoyed a squeaky-clean image as a family man.

The latest revelations may not sully that reputation too much as tax dodging is often referred to as the second national sport in Italy. Numerous high-profile figures have been accused of cheating on their returns.

A government report published last month estimated that tax evasion currently costs the state €91 billion per year, equivalent to six percent of the country's annual output.

News of the allegations against Cannavaro emerged a day after the financial police announced they had broken up a ring of companies they believe used false accounting to defraud the state out of €1.7 billion.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised a crackdown on tax dodgers and has vowed to end the country's tradition of regular amnesties for offenders as part of broader package of reforms intended to make the country easier to govern, more business-friendly and stronger financially.

Well-known names who have been previously accused or convicted of illegal tax evasion include fashion designers Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is currently doing community service in a retirement home as his punishment after being convicted of tax fraud.

SEE ALSO: Italian police discover €1.7 bn corporate fraud

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Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

Switzerland and Italy have pledged to conclude a long-awaited tax arrangement for cross-border workers by the end of the year.

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’
Photo: ALESSANDRO CRINARI / POOL / AFP

At a meeting in Rome between Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the two leaders said progress was being made on a cross-border tax arrangement. 

The agreement, originally negotiated in 2015, has as yet not been signed by either state. 

READ: How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

A 1974 agreement between the two countries doesn’t define cross-border worker. 

Sommaruga praised Switzerland’s decision to reject an initiative which would have restricted migration from EU countries and perhaps had impacts on cross-border workers. 

“In last Sunday's referendum, the Swiss people once again said that they want the free movement of people. It is a good thing for our country but it is also a good thing for the whole of Europe,” she said. 

“With neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional approach excluding border regions and also cross-border workers from the quarantine regime. 

“I hope we can continue like this.”

While Switzerland rejected the migration limitation initiative, Ticino was one of four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to vote in favour. 

Conte told reporters he hoped a deal was concluded “as soon as possible” and hoped it would be concluded by 2021. 

Conte hailed Italian cross-border workers as essential to the health system in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. 

READ: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

Unlike with Italy, Switzerland has struck a tax deal for cross-border workers from neighbouring France, which was amended during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

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