ROME, May 26 (Reuters) - Two heirs to Italian luxury jeweller Bulgari denied wrongdoing on Tuesday after an Italian court ordered them to stand trial along with 11 others on suspicion of tax evasion.
Brothers Nicola and Paolo Bulgari will be called to respond to allegations the jeweller evaded taxes between 2006 and 2010, before it was taken over by French luxury group LVMH.
“They say they are innocent, because there is no fraud,” the Bulgari brothers’lawyer Bruno Assumma told Reuters.
The investigation centres on a subsidiary based in Ireland which prosecutors say allowed Bulgari to benefit unfairly from that country’s lower corporate tax rate, a judicial source said.
Assumma said the Irish company functions normally within the group.
In 2013, prosecutors seized assets worth more than 45 million euros ($49.03 million), including Bulgari’s office on Rome’s prestigious Via Condotti, as part of the same investigation.
The first hearing will take place on Oct. 13, the judicial source said.
In 2011, LVMH bought the Bulgari family’s 50 percent stake in the jeweller for 1.87 billion euros, and spent as much in a takeover bid on the rest of the shares.
A deep recession following the euro zone debt crisis has strained public finances and prompted Italy to crack down harder on tax evasion, which the treasury says costs it 90 billion euros ($98 billion)a year. ($1 = 0.9178 euros) (Reporting by Mario Sarzanini, Isla Binnie and Valentina Za; editing by Ralph Boulton)