Italy Minister Used Offshore Funds to Buy Home, Il Sole Says

Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli, who has led a crackdown on tax evasion, bought his Rome apartment partly with funds from a Channel Islands account and then avoided sales tax on renovations by paying cash for about half the costs, Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper reported, citing documents it obtained.

Grilli, who has spent most of his career in civil service, bought the 310 square-meter (3,336 square-foot) apartment in Rome after returning to government work from London, where he was a managing director and head of Italian investment banking at Credit Suisse First Boston for about a year from 2001 through 2002. At the time of the 2004 purchase, he was serving as Italy’s general accountant.

Grilli, 55, told the newspaper that he’d properly declared the Channel Islands funds and paid taxes. He said that having worked at a Swiss bank it was normal to have such accounts and that he brought the money with him to Italy when he moved back.

Regarding the renovation, which the newspaper said cost 642,281 euros ($835,442), Grilli said he paid all his bills in a transparent manner.

Bloomberg News reported in January that Grilli declared a purchase price for the apartment that was about half its assessed value of 2.03 million euros according to his signed filings with Italian authorities. Grilli said the mismatch was due to a separate payment he made to a relative of the seller for earlier renovations of the 14-room home.

A spokesman for Grilli, who was appointed by Prime Minister Mario Monti to spearhead a drive to prevent tax evasion, didn’t respond to calls seeking comment on today’s story.

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