Italian tax police have seized the assets of an architect with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Officials in the province of Brescia had seized assets of a "well-known Brescian businessman" totaling more than 141 million euros for tax offenses, money laundering and fraud, the Guardia di Finanza said. According to the Reuters news agency, the man is Lanfranco Cirillo.
Cirillo is said to have designed a huge estate on the Black Sea in Russia for Putin. The magnificent palace with its own port and cathedral is called "Putin's Palace" by Kremlin critics. The property is said to cover an area in total that Monaco would fit 39 times.
A lawyer for Cirillo confirmed that his client's assets had been confiscated, Reuters reports, but stressed that Cirillo was not guilty of any wrongdoing in relation to Italian taxes. In addition, his client settled in Russia many years ago and received Russian citizenship in 2014.
"The architect, who is based in Moscow, is very disappointed that the fact that he has bought some prestigious properties and works of art in Italy and cared for his wife and daughter is being used to claim that he is his faked moving abroad," Reuters quoted a statement from lawyer Stefano Lojacono as saying.
According to the tax police in Brescia, luxury apartments, bank accounts, cash, jewellery, modern and contemporary works of art by famous artists and even a helicopter were among the items confiscated.
The businessman is being investigated because between 2013 and 2019 he did not report income in the tens of millions in Italy, according to the tax investigators. The architect's assets are disproportionate to the taxable income reported by him. The tax investigation became aware of the case through the identification of a helicopter registered in Russia for which the customs formalities had not been fulfilled. This led to the discovery of a fictitious residence of the man abroad.
The authorities also pointed out in their statement that the seizure was ordered on the basis of evidence gathered during the preliminary investigation, so that the presumption of innocence would apply until the final verdict.
Quellen: Guardia di Finanza, Reuters