Italy investigates Blackstone-owned LIA insurer over tax evasion allegations -sources

FILE PHOTO: Duomo's cathedral and Porta Nuova's financial district are seen in Milan
FILE PHOTO: Duomo's cathedral and Porta Nuova's financial district are seen in Milan, Italy, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

July 21, 2021

MILAN (Reuters) – Milan prosecutors are investigating Lombard International Assurance (LIA), a Luxembourg-based insurer owned by U.S. fund Blackstone, due to allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, two judicial sources said.

Newspaper Sole 24 Ore had reported the investigation on Wednesday and the judicial sources confirmed the details of the report.

The judicial sources said Italy’s tax police allege LIA had failed to disclose to domestic tax authorities income worth around 500 million euros ($589 million).

The prosecutors are also investigating allegations that some of the money that LIA’s customers have invested in insurance policies was obtained illegally, the judicial sources said.

“LIA acts in full compliance with all the relevant laws in the jurisdictions where it operates,” the company said in an emailed response to a Reuters request for comment.

LIA said it always cooperated with authorities and that it operated in Italy through a secondary Milan-based arm.

The sources said the tax police believed LIA’s operations in Italy were such that warranted paying taxes in the country.

The judicial sources also said the investigation into LIA was one of several similar investigations in the insurance sector and followed similar probes in the banking sector which have yielded more than 300 million euros in revenues for Italy’s tax authorities.

($1 = 0.8493 euros)

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, writing by Valentina Za. Editing by Jane Merriman)