Italy Ferrari sales down as tax evasion crackdown spooks

TURIN, April 17 Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:40am EDT

TURIN, April 17 (Reuters) - Italians spooked by rising car taxes and highly publicized tax fraud spot checks cut back their purchases of Fiat's high-end sports car brands Ferrari and Maserati in the first quarter of 2012, an industry body said on Tuesday.

Ferrari sales slumped 51.5 percent, in Italy, and Maserati sales plummeted by 70 percent, said Italian car dealers group Federauto in a statement.

Prime Minister Mario Monti's government has stepped up its fight on tax evasion with spot checks on supercar drivers, as well as higher taxes on large cars.

"These figures show how the choices made by the government are literally terrorizing potential clients," said Federauto chairman Filippo Pavan Bernacchi. (Reporting by Gianni Montani)

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