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Villa seized in tax probe into ex-chief of secret P2 Lodge

17 million euros of tax arrears, investigators say

10 October, 12:24
Villa seized in tax probe into ex-chief of secret P2 Lodge (ANSA) - Rome, October 10 - Finance police seized the prestigious family villa of an Italian financier and ex-grand master of the covert P2 Masonic lodge, Licio Gelli, in a tax-dodging probe in the central Italian city of Arezzo, investigators said Thursday.

Licio Gelli, 94, his wife Gabriella Vasile, their three children Maurizio, Maria Rosa and Raffaello, as well as a grandchild, Alessandro Marsilli, are all under investigation for an alleged scheme to avoid paying tax arrears that authorities say amounts to 17 million euros.

Gelli and his family are accused of avoiding a tax lien on the Villa Wanda in Arezzo in 2007 by arranging, through a series of fictitious transactions and legal acts, the appearance of cession of the property from the family-controlled company to third parties.

The family company that owned the villa was wholly controlled by Gelli's three children, investigators saud.

Financial police say that faced with large tax arrears and the imminent clamp down of the tax collection agency Equitalia, control of the villa was fraudulently signed over to Gelli's wife and grandchild and then, in a subsequent transaction, to an ad hoc company set up in Rome, the latter of which was traceable back to Gelli.

Gelli was the chief of the P2 covert Masonic lodge that rocked Italy in the early 1980's in the wake of the collapse of lender Banco Ambrosiano, a major political scandal.

Investigators discovered that the scuppered bank's chairman, Roberto Calvi, belonged to the secret P2 lodge, which counted 962 military officers and civil servants among its members, launching speculation of a shadow state or murky concentration of power.