Taxman slithers for Italian star

Canale 5 stalwart Ezio Greggio pays €45,000 fine to avoid jail sentence for tax evasion

Ezio Greggio (left) on his weekly satirical news show: the Italian television star paid a €45,000 fine to avoid a jail sentence for tax evasion

Ezio Greggio (left) on his weekly satirical news show: the Italian television star paid a €45,000 fine to avoid a jail sentence for tax evasion

 

It’s not just internet behemoths and luxury goods giants that use Ireland to dodge taxes. One of Italy’s top television stars this week paid a €45,000 fine to avoid a six-moth jail sentence for tax evasion, after Italian officials became suspicious about his use of a Dublin-registered company.

Ezio Greggio is a stalwart of Canale 5, a flagship television channel in Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire. The comedian presents a weekly satirical news show, Striscia la notizia (The news slithers), which has been running for more than 25 years.

It turns out that Greggio, who is a big pal of Hollywood actor/director Mel Brooks, was diverting a portion of his salary to Wolf Pictures, an Irish company to which he had sold his image rights.

Paid out royalties

He was eventually accused by authorities of avoiding taxes on more than €20 million of his Mediaset earnings, leading to the fine this week that Italian press dubbed a “plea bargain”.

Wolf no longer files detailed accounts, but its 2007 financial statements clearly show that Greggio is “a related party by way of the fact that he is the beneficial owner of the share capital”.

Adding another layer of geographical intrigue, the Irish company’s sole shareholder is listed as a company in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, while one of its directors has a Guernsey address.

Might this tax technique be a double Irish-Italian-Channel Islands-Monaco-Liberian sandwich?

Maybe Michael Noonan will close this particular loophole in next year’s budget.

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