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Babelgum founder in tax fraud allegations


MV Core Team
Fastweb and Babelgum founder Silvio Scaglia (pictured, left), and some associates, are under investigation by Italian financial police for alleged tax and money laundering. All the companies involved stress there has been no wrongdoing. A statement from Mr Scaglia's lawyer said the entrepreneur was out of the country on business and also denied any wrongdoing.
Certain members of one or other of Mr Scaglia’s companies have already been arrested with as many as 56 arrest warrants issued. One warrant is for Mario Rossetti, an ex-member of the Fastweb board of directors. Stefano Parisi, currently CEO of Fastweb, and two other managers are also under investigation.

A sister company, Swisscom AG, said in a formal statement, that it was carrying out its own investigation and was seeking a speedy resolution of matters. Italian prosecutors allege the money involved was laundered via fictitious international phone service purchases and sales worth more than €2 billion ($2.7bn) between 2003 and 2006, carried out with the knowledge of top executives at Fastweb and Telecom Italia’s internet subsidiary Sparkle.

"The allegation of VAT abuse have been complemented with allegations of money laundering, directed towards individuals within the abusing third companies and the companies involved in the VAT allegations," Swisscom said. "Between the years 2003 and 2006, Fastweb bought and sold services (phone cards and voice services) from Italian providers, whereby Italian VAT (value added tax) was included in the purchase prices," Swisscom said. It added that according to the authorities' allegations, vendors entered into transactions to avoid delivering that transferred VAT, paid by Fastweb, to tax authorities. "As a result of this investigation, Fastweb has not yet been fully refunded in VAT," Swisscom said, adding that it sought two separate opinions from tax consultants on the matter when it acquired Fastweb. The consultants found that the transactions in question were correct and Fastweb was therefore entitled to a refund of the VAT, said Swisscom.

Fastweb’s shares fell to a 15-month low (down 7.5% on the day) as further news emerged that Italian prosecutors want Fastweb’s business activities suspended pending formal hearings now scheduled for March 2.

© Rapid TV News 2010