Former Renault F1 chief and one of the more controversial figures in the sport, Flavio Briatore sentenced on appeal to 18 months in jail by Court of Appeal of Genoa for tax evasion in connection with his luxury yacht.
Briatore, the architect in chief of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix Crashgate scandal, this time he was not fiddling in Formula 1 but rather with Italian income tax issues regarding the Force Blue luxury superyacht.
Briatore, whose yacht was seized in 2010, had his sentence reduced from 23 months, despite prosecutors asking for a four-year sentence.
Investigators contest Briatore’s claims that he does not own the Force Blue yacht but merely rents it from a company registered in the Virgin Islands. Investigators said the flamboyant Italian was the owner of that company – and by extension – owner of the 63-metre yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands.
Briatore was convicted of not paying €3.6-million of VAT on the yacht’s value and dodging €800,000 of fuel duties between 2006 and 2010.
Italian police say that according to EU regulations, yachts registered outside the European Union may only avoid paying duty if they leave EU waters within eight hours of refuelling.
His lawyers said: “He is innocent, we will appeal to the Supreme Court.”