A hamburger joint carrying the name of world-famous Italian quality-food chain Eataly was seized this morning as part of a so-called “avatar operation”; a probe into the alleged use of shell companies and false identities in a large-scale money laundering operation.
Carabinieri police have arrested six people and seized a total of 29 “ghost” or shell companies in the operation, local media reported.
Police also seized 79 bank accounts, several properties, and gold bullion in the investigation, with a total value of €250 million.
Those arrested were allegedly part of an organised crime group that operated in Italy and abroad, using fraudulent methods to obtain millions of euros in financing.
The owner of the Eataly hamburgheria in the town of Settimo Torinese was the first to end up in handcuffs for receiving stolen goods.
He is believed to be the owner of the storage facility in which the gold bullion was found, according to local media.
Turin-based Eataly has branches around the world including this one in New York. Photo: EUGENE GOLOGURSKY/AFP
Eataly, headquartered in the Lingotto area of Turin, stocks sustainably sourced, artisanal produce from Italy.
Since first opening its doors in 2007, Eataly has risen to become the world's largest Italian food supermarket, and was named by Forbes as one of the most 'disruptive brands' of 2015.
The chain now has international stores in Seoul, New York, Tokyo and Istanbul with further openings planned for London, Hong Kong, Paris, Mexico City and Moscow.
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