Leading Designers Indicted on Corruption Charges
MILAN, Italy (AP) _ The toast of Italian fashion _ Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferre, Santo Versace, Girolamo Etro and Krizia _ and other leading designers have been indicted for allegedly bribing tax inspectors, news agencies reported Thursday.
The indictments were part of the so-called ``Clean Hands″ probe, which uncovered systematic, nationwide kickbacks from business figures to politicians and bureaucrats.
Judge Anna Conforti set a trial date of Sept. 20. There was no answer at Conforti’s office to confirm the reports, carried by the AGI and ANSA news agencies and RAI state television.
About 20 people, including some tax police officers, were indicted in this case, the agencies said.
Prosecutors accuse the designers of paying hundreds of thousand of dollars in bribes to tax inspectors in return for favorable audits.
Defense lawyers, however, said the designers were the victims of extortion by tax inspectors who threatened to find problems with their tax returns if they weren’t paid off.
Armani, Ferre, Etro and Krizia head some of Italy’ most famous fashion houses. Santo Versace is Gianni Versace’s brother and the business manager of his fashion empire.