An Italian court on Wednesday sentenced fashion design duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to one year and eight months in prison for hiding hundreds of millions of euros from the tax authorities.
The designers, who are nearly as famous as the stars they dress, were not present and have denied the charges.
They are unlikely to spend any time in jail.
The case is one of the few prominent tax disputes to go to court in Italy, and dates back to 2004 when the pair sold their brand to Luxembourg-based holding company Gado to allegedly avoid declaring taxes on royalties of about one billion euros (US $1.3 billion).
The same court, in the same trial, acquitted the two designers from charges of having falsified their tax statements.
The defence lawyer of Dolce and Gabbana, Massimo Dinoia, expressed satisfaction at the partial acquittal and said they will appeal against the part of the verdict that saw the two found guilty.
“They were two different issues, therefore the (two court decisions) are not in contradiction,” Dinoia said.
“I think they should have not given them a guilty verdict also for the first charge because there was nothing there. Yet, they have decided to sentence them, we shall wait to read the motivations and we will appeal against this sentence” he added.
The success of Dolce and Gabbana’s well-crafted sexy corset dresses and sharply-tailored suits favoured by Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and Bryan Ferry have earned them a glamourous lifestyle.
The pair, who are no longer romantically involved, also played host to friend and client Madonna for the popstar’s birthday in 2009 at their villa in Portofino.
Prosecutor Gaetano Ruta, who is working on the criminal case, said late in May the two should be sentenced to two and a half years in jail as they were the people who “indirectly” benefited most from the transaction.