The yacht of a former Formula One
team chief has been impounded by Italian authorities.
Force Blue, which is registered in
Cayman and owned by the Autumn Sailing Company, was seized near La Spezia on 20
May by Italian police. They had been authorised to take possession of the
mega-yacht by Judge Ferdinando Baldini after alleged yacht owner Flavio
Briatore was put under suspicion of tax evasion.
On board at the time of the
vessel’s seizure by tax officers was Briatore’s wife, ex-Wonderbra model
Elisabetta Gregoraci. She told the Italian paper Corriere della Sera that she
had time to pick up a few things for the couple’s son, Nathan Falco.
“It was a trauma for me and for the
I lost my milk. And my son had to
get used to artificial milk in a big hurry. The paediatrician suggested a good
one to me, but no artificial milk will ever be the same as a mummy’s.
“It’s not as if we were running
away. The yacht was already on its way to port,” she added.
Lawyers said that Briatore should
have paid CI$4 million in VAT on the CI$18 million vessel when it was brought
to the European Union as he is an EU citizen. Mr. Briatore is also liable for
fuel duty of CI$800,000, they said.
The 203-foot Force Blue is the 78th
biggest yacht in the world, with six decks, a spa, gym, swimming pool and
discotheque. It is officially owned by the Autumn Sailing charter company of
British Virgin Islands but the Genoan judge, pointing to 19 rental contracts
since 2006 as well as testimony from three crew members, said that Mr. Briatore
was actually de facto owner.
The former boss of the Renault
Formula One team has countered by requesting the yacht’s release, saying that
it was rented, that he paid taxes in England where he has lived for 18 years,
and that he has no income in Italy.