The designers were sentenced in June 2013 to one year and eight months in prison by an Italian judge. That's on top of a $440 million fine levied in 2012 related to the same tax evasion charges, which stemmed from the brand's decision to set up a holding company in Luxembourg in order to pay lower corporate taxes than it would in Italy. Obviously, the designers appealed, as they have not yet served any jail time and have, since the sentencing, shown two runway collections and become billionaires.
During a hearing on Tuesday, Milan general prosecutor Gaetano Santamaria asked that all of the defendants in the case be acquitted -- including accountant Luciano Patelli, Dolce’s brother Alfonso, general director Cristiana Ruella and finance director Giuseppe Minoni. As a general prosecutor, Santamaria's job is to ensure the law has been applied correctly and present his findings to the appeals court, which can still ultimately overrule him.
Santamaria argued that the holdings company in Luxembourg is completely legitimate and in line with Dolce & Gabbana's expansion goals, rather than a ploy to avoid taxes. “They choose the Bourse in Luxembourg because it is the most vivacious in Europe, because its fiscal legislation attracts capitals, it has an efficient public administration and, yes, it offers fiscal benefits but it is legitimate to optimize them,” he said, according to WWD. He added that the designers are “totally taken by their models, their fabrics and events, they are creative minds. I just don’t see them dealing with bills and schemes to cut their tax rate.” And that "the verdict contrasts with common sense.”
Despite Santamaria's speech, which WWD's reporter described as "vibrant" and "captivating," the designers' fate is still up in the air, though probably not for long. A final verdict may be issued as soon as April 4.