Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana found out the hard way that even glamorous fashion designers aren't exempt from the long arm of the law. On Wednesday, the design duo was found guilty of tax evasion and was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail. They and three other defendants were also ordered to pay back about $670,000 each.
But Dolce & Gabbana's lawyers quickly refuted the court's "guilty" ruling, releasing a rather confusing statement. An excerpt:
With great satisfaction, we acknowledge that – for the second time – a judge of the Milan Court has reiterated once more the absolute innocence – because the allegations are untrue – of Mr Domenico Dolce and Mr Stefano Gabbana of the accusation of having unfaithfully declared their earnings (the “notorious” million dollars of Euros).
Even more so, we are satisfied about the result of this part of the verdict because, according to Italian legislation, the statute of limitations had already run out of the charge of misrepresenting income. Despite this fact, the judge felt the need to acquit them on the matter: this means that, according to the Italian law, the proof of their innocent is more than obvious.
The lawyers' mention of the statute of limitations refers to a second charge, which accused the designers of misrepresenting income of 416 million euros (around $560 million). The statute of limitations on that charge had expired, yet the judge still ruled on it, acquitting Dolce and Gabbana.
So what's the likelihood of the designers actually serve their one year and eight months in prison? Italian law states that people with sentences of less than two years don't actually have to go to prison, so Dolce and Gabbana probably won't see the inside of a cell.
But they will have to pay up a sum large enough to cause their lawyers serious concern. In the formal statement, the designers' lawyers wrote:
The absolution of the designers for the declarations related to their individual earnings is at the same time blatant and dramatic, because, notwithstanding the same fact was ruled as non-existent by today’s Court, the Internal Revenue Service might proceed with their operations against them, fining them for the excessive and surreal amount of money of more than 400 million Euros.
Due to the fact that the two designers do not have this kind of money – as the judge stated today, that they have never earned it – most probably the Internal Revenue Service will attack their most precious part of their patrimony, which is their shareholding in the Dolce & Gabbana Company.
Something tells us things are going to get worse before they get better for this designer powerhouse pair.
UPDATE: Dolce and Gabbana's team has released a second statement, clarifying the verdict as handed down:
This morning, we were shocked when we noticed that certain media outlets had completely misunderstood yesterday’s verdict, turning it upside down. This is why we must come back on the matter in order to state the truth of the situation.
All charges related to the fact that the two designers were accused of not having included in their taxes declaration the sum of 1 billion euros, were dropped – because the fact has never happened. Therefore, it is also false what was written today by some media outlets, according to which the designers were condemned of 1 billion euros of taxes evasion: the charges on this accusation were all dropped, as they were two years ago.
The conviction of the two designers – which in any case is suspended – for which Mr Dolce and Mr Gabbana do not risk a single day of jail, relates only to their alleged involvement with the administrator of the Company Gado for not having paid 40 million euros of taxes. We state once again that, sure of their innocence, we will appeal the part of the verdict that see the designers convicted, being convinced that all charges will be dropped also for those matters.
Fashion people misbehaving: