Ads for glory and in defence
With a two page ad in the New York Times Prada announces the glorious new major project in Milan’s historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and a one page paid advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, in defence of Dolce & Gabbana, both appeared at the same day, namely July 22, 2013, and are eye catching
Mario Prada opened his first shop in 1913 at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. In recognition of this one hundred years of existence, and the fundamental place Milan (I) – Prada declares – holds in the company’s collective psyche, the company is refocusing on its point of origin, and building an expanded presence in the ancestral home.
The new “Prada Galleria” is enjoying a flexible layout, new sales space, and the Fondazione (foundation) Prada, as well areas for events and the headquarters of the Prada Group, all with the aim to bring new energy to Milan’s historic entre and help to revitalise an exquisite urban landmark. On the top floor a 24 hours museum is also installed. All of this honours Prada’s glory and 100 year presence at the Galleria.
Of a different and serious kind is the advertisement by Dolce and Gabbana, because of the alleged tax crimes attributed to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. The declaration is as follows: “WE are no longer willing to tolerate unfair accusations on behalf of the Italian Guardia di Finanza (Italian Tax Police) and the Agenzia delle Entrate (Internal Revenue Agency, attacks from the Public Prosecutor and the media assaults, we have been subjected to. We do this not only for ourselves but above all, for the people who work with us. Finally, indignant with how we are treated by the City of Milan, we have decided to close all our shops in the city (a total of nine retail stores) for the next three days, starting on July 19, 2013. The customers were informed by notice on the doors.
The designers stated that they are very fortunate to work with people who are gifted with rare excellence, both from a technical-professional point of view, and from a personal point of view, the believe in us and this situation is taking away their motivation. The closing of our shops in Milan is a symbol of our disdain! We are born in Milan and have always been very grateful to this city. However, it must also be stated that in the last 30 years, we have given a great deal to this city: prestige and international visibility, jobs and economic development. It is added a list of the most important 200 contributors to the city of Milan according to 2005 incomes and published by the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, before we were attacked by the international revenue office”. The list shows Domenico Dolce in rank 4 with a taxable income of EUR 29708241 and taxes paid with EUR 12760958 and Stefano Gabbana in rank 5 with a taxable income of EUR 29651255 and taxes paid with EUR 12734013.
The criminal charge raised against the two designers: You, who by the sale of the brands earned a total of UR 360 million, should have paid EUR 548842368 in taxes. Incredible but true, the two designers were accused of an unfaithful tax return declaration for having duly stated “only” the amount which was effectively received and not the amount (billions, according to a fanciful hypothesis of the Italian Revenue Agency IRA) which they could have earned in theory. This was, and still is today, at the basis of the request b the IRA, which demands the payment of taxes (we repeat for earnings that were never obtained) in the hundreds of millions of Euros.
This unheard of case becomes even more of a paradox and unacceptable if we consider that the same fanciful hypothesis of the IRA (you must pay millions of Euros in tax on earnings never received) has been judged twice by a criminal court, which twice acquitted the designers stating “The fact did not occur”. Recently, although the matter was covered by a state of limitations, the judge deemed that is was his duty to acquit the two designers with the full formula, in fact proclaiming their complete innocence “The fact did not occur”!!
Yet today the tax authorities ask two citizens, who have always paid up to the last cent (and in the highest tax bracket) their income taxes on what they effectively earned, the payment of additional taxes on earnings never, we repeat, never received.
It is a very true distortion, firstly of the principles dictated b the Constitution, and of the basic rules of civil living, which takes away from the citizen all certainties and imposes an existence of terror that sooner or later the tax authorities may knock at the door, even without any reason.
The public opinion must know that the first degree criminal sentence, which obviously will be appealed, was not for tax evasion committed by the designers. This concerned Gado, a company that was incorp0orated and operational abroad, which instead is accused of being a company resident in Italy, and, as such, with the obligation to file tax returns. The sentence, therefore, was towards the company’s director, and in relation to this charge, the two designers were considered to be external accomplices. Also toward the company Gado the IRA has advanced claims of millions of Euros in terms of taxes, thereby creating an unexplainable and incomprehensible duplication.
There is another unacceptable peculiarity in this situation which is retroactivity of legal rules. In fact, in 2003 – 2004 (the timeframe which the accusations refer to) no one could foresee a similar tax claim, which not even the many changes in case-law can justify. The Supreme Court of Cassation, in fact, introduced the figure of abuse of freedom of contract only in December 2008, and in any case this figure did not arrive to the point of allowing a tax claim in relation to a sale price undoubtedly real and on which all the required taxes have been duly paid.
The double claim on the basis of the same facts, towards Gado and the two designers, is not a repression of abuse, but it is itself and abuse towards the designers and the whole group, and it undermines the taxpayers’ trust towards the State, which trust is essential to stimulate work, commitment and development towards progress.
The ad concludes: “They have really gone too far. The tax authorities and the justice system have to be strict at times, but not as blind and incomprehensible as in the case of this unjustified double tax claim”. The total statement is signed by three lawyers, namely Massimo Dinoia, Fortunato Taglioretti, and Armando Simbari.
TextileFuture wishes to add in the case of the two designers, it seems that there are two measurements applied to these, when you compare the constructed cases against the crimes the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted, including tax frauds. When you read the above case you come to the conclusion that Justice in Italy is a lottery, and in such a play one wins, one loses, obviously the losers are not only the two designers (55 and 61), but the true loser is the Italian state and its subjects, having lost any trust and credibility, this is a fundamental loss leading to further losses. The cases have to be seen also in the light of tightening budgets. In the eyes of politicians the end justifies the means, but hopefully they will be presented the adequate receipt at the next elections to come up probably sooner than expected. We think it is very brave of the two designers to seek public support to show the malaise in Italy’s juridical procedures.