Florentine businessman's multi-million-euro assets seized

Declared less than 3,000 euros in annual income

Florentine businessman's multi-million-euro assets seized

Florence, June 4 - Italian tax collectors seized 15 million euros' worth of assets from a 71-year-old Florentine businessman on Tuesday. Investigators believe the hotel real-estate operator dodged taxes by creating two slush funds - trusts under the names of fictitious owners - to hide his business income and assets derived from millions of euros worth of property sales. Investigators claim that the man declared an income in 2008 of just 2,800 euros while concealing 7.4 million euros gained from property sales, for example. Assets seized on Tuesday included two palatial villas - one in central Florence and one in the Tuscan seaside resort Forte dei Marmi. The Florentine villa has 870 sq metres with a private park of 640 sq metres, and is located near the banks of the river that cuts through the historic centre. The Forte dei Marmi villa is 1,200 sq metres with two pools. The businessman is believed to have tucked capital gains of 17 million euros in a Florentine trust, taken from the sale of the lion's share of the company's real-estate portfolio, including a well-known hotel in the heart of Florence worth 26 million euros. The two luxury villas were controlled by a the second trust, located in Monaco and owned by a pair of offshore companies headquartered in the Seychelles, which investigators believe were controlled by the Florentine businessman.

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