* Designer Prada, CEO Bertelli investigated in Italy-sources
* Newspaper says they have paid about 400 mln euro to taxman
* Prada Holding said in Dec it was repatriating assets
* Spokesman for Holding's lawyers says unaware of probe
(Adds tax authority statement)
By Manuela D'Alessandro and Isla Binnie
MILAN, Jan 10 Italian fashion designer Miuccia
Prada and her husband, Prada chief executive and fellow
shareholder Patrizio Bertelli, are under investigation as part
of a tax avoidance probe by Milan prosecutors, three
investigative sources told Reuters on Friday.
A spokesman for lawyers representing Prada Holding, through
which Miuccia, her siblings and husband control the luxury group
centred on a brand founded by her family in 1913, said he was
not aware of the investigation.
Milan's public prosecutor's office declined to comment.
Prada Holding said in December it had completed a process of
voluntary tax disclosure and planned to bring back to Italy
assets held abroad, primarily in low-tax Netherlands - where the
holding company was previously based - and Luxembourg.
Prada Holding is the latest in a series of high-profile
firms to land in the crosshairs of Italy's tax authorities,
which have become more interventionist as economic crisis erodes
U.S. tech giant Apple came under investigation in
Italy in November, and fashion designers Domenico Dolce and
Stefano Gabbana were given 20-month suspended prison sentences
and a fine in June. All denied any wrongdoing.
Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper said on Friday Prada
and Bertelli had paid 420 million euros ($571 million) to
Italy's tax agency to settle their tax affairs. The paper also
said the two were under investigation despite the settlement.
The investigative sources said the report in Corriere della
Sera was correct and added that a Prada director was also under
investigation in the same case.
A source close to the matter said the money paid to Italian
tax authorities was a routine transaction and not a fine.
Later on Friday, Italy's government tax agency issued
comments from a senior official saying it had concluded its own
checks into the tax affairs of Prada's shareholders and all
money owed, including penalties and interest, had been paid.
However, under the Italian legal system, the payment of tax
penalties does not prevent magistrates from launching their own
Shares in Prada, which is listed in Hong Kong,
closed down 3.9 percent earlier on Friday.
Prada chief financial officer Donatelli Galli said on a
conference call in December the company had had "strong and
continuing" discussions with Italian authorities and had agreed
to pay to avoid further penalties.
Galli said there was no litigation underway at the time.
($1 = 0.7361 euros)
(Additional reporting by Sara Rossi; Writing by Isla Binnie;
Editing by Mark Potter and Anthony Barker)