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2018-02-11 11:16

Image: AFP / Andreas Solaro

Rome - Flamboyant Italian tycoon and former boss of the Benetton and Renault F1 racing teams Flavio Briatore was Saturday sentenced on appeal to 18 months in jail for tax evasion in connection with his luxury yacht.

Briatore, whose multi-million-dollar superyacht "Force Blue" was seized in 2010, had his sentence reduced from 23 months, despite prosecutors asking for a four-year sentence.

His lawyers said they would again appeal.

The 63-metre (206-foot) yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands.

Investigators contest Briatore's claims that he does not own it but merely rents it from a company registered in the Virgin Islands.

They said he was the owner of the company - and by extension - owner of the yacht.

Briatore was convicted of not paying €3.6-million of VAT on the yacht's value and dodging €800 000 of fuel duties between 2006 and 2010.

Police say according to EU regulations, yachts registered outside the European Union may only avoid paying duty if they leave EU waters within eight hours of refuelling.

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