Italian police probe massive tax fraud

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Italy's financial police on Tuesday said they were investigating executives of some 280 companies for alleged tax fraud totalling some 150 million euros (180 million dollars).

The companies include telecom operator Fastweb, soccer club Udinese and furniture maker Poltrona Frau, a source familiar with the investigation told AFP.

Prosecutors in Milan, Italy's business capital, believe the executives evaded taxes by paying fees from company accounts to shell businesses abroad, issuing receipts for non-existent goods or services, police said in a statement.

The money, minus a fee of two or three percent of the sum paid to a Swiss middleman in the alleged scam, was channelled to other companies in Panama and the Virgin Islands before being deposited in accounts in Switzerland.

The probe also involves communications and editorial firms, as well as a pornographic movie production house, the statement said.

© 2010 AFP

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