(Updated with news of raid on Milan HQ)
The Italian government is currently investigating Apple for alleged tax fraud worth over €1 billion, or about $1.34 billion US, Reuters
reports. The newswire agency cites a "judicial source with direct knowledge of the matter," asked to confirm or deny a story in local media. "The Apple investigation is under way," the source is quoted as saying, without providing any additional details.
Apple is just one of a number of corporations being scrutinized in Italy for possible tax dodges. In June, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were punished with a 20-month suspended prison sentence and a large fine for holding hundreds of millions of euros in unpaid taxes. European governments in general have been cracking down on multinationals that use elaborate schemes to avoid taxes, a particular problem in an era when governments are often cash-strapped and cutting basic social services to appease debt concerns.
The center of attention has frequently been on Ireland, through which companies like Apple can funnel international cash
while paying minimal local or foreign taxes; the Italian case, in fact, involves income booked in Ireland but which was actually generated in Italy. The Irish government has been considering eliminating some of its loopholes, but others might allow a modified version of current practices to continue.
The original Italian report, from l'Espresso
that regulators have raided Apple Italy's Milan headquarters and seized items related to the investigation. Apple is believed to be challenging the seizure order.