Italian billionaire Scaglia flies into custody to fight tax fraud charges

Nick Clark@MrNickClark
Saturday 27 February 2010 01:00

One of Italy's wealthiest men, Silvio Scaglia, was in police custody last night after he turned himself in to face allegations of involvement in a money laundering and tax fraud ring.

Mr Scaglia, the founder of Italian broadband operator Fastweb, had returned voluntarily from a business trip to the Caribbean after a judge issued a warrant for the arrest earlier this week. He was picked up by police soon after his private jet touched down in Rome early yesterday,

His arrest was one of 56 covered by the warrant and included Nicola di Girolami, a senator who belongs to the political party of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister.

Before his surrender, Mr Scaglia, who set up Fastweb in 1999, said: "I am confident I behaved correctly, as did the company I controlled".

He is expected to be questioned by a magistrate in the capital today.

A spokeswoman for Mr Scaglia said the tycoon was "surprised and shocked" by the latest charges because he thought he had dealt with allegations in interviews with the same magistrates in 2007. The investigation has been running since 2004.

Prosecutors have claimed that Mr Scaglia was involved in a ring laundering money through fake telecommunications companies, although they have not said what his role was.

This week, they insisted the case was "one of the biggest fraud cases in the history of our country" and added that there could be links to the Calabrian organised crime clan, the N'drangheta. Mr Scaglia and Fastweb categorically deny any links to the Mafia.

The prosecutors allege that Fastweb, Telecom Italia and a network of offshore companies evaded paying €365m in VAT through "the fake billing of telephone and internet services".

The inquiry forced Telecom Italia to delay publication of its full-year results on Thursday. The case relates to Telecom Italia's internet wholesale business Sparkle, from which prosecutors seized cash and assets of €300m that allegedly related to tax credits illegally accrued between 2005 and 2007. Both companies deny any wrongdoing.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments