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Motor Yacht Force Blue Seized

May 21st 10

Dockwalk received the following from the Italian Ship and Yacht Brokers Association (ISYBA):

"Flavio Briatore's £15m yacht seized in fraud probe after police chase along the Italian coast.


Officers on high-speed boats 'pursued' the 60-metre yacht Force Blue for several miles this morning.

They finally boarded it when it anchored off the port of La Spezia near Genoa and was boarded.

They had authority from a local prosecutor who ordered the boat to be impounded as part of the probe which centres on its status as a yacht available for charter.

Prosecutors believe the glamorous pair may be gaining massive tax breaks by declaring their boat was for hire... then living on it themselves.

Briatore claims that the yacht is available for hire at £240,000 a week and as result is registered out of the European Union, in the Cayman Islands, entitling him to a favourable tax break, according to Genoa prosecutors.

But prosecutor Walter Cotugno is looking into claims that there is no evidence of it being chartered - and that Briatore and his wife spend a large part of the year living on board.

Last week it was moored off Monte Carlo for the Formula One Grand Prix. Every summer Briatore and his wife are regularly seen hosting lavish parties as they cruise the Mediterranean.

A police spokesman said more details of the investigation into the 'contraband use' of Force Blue would be given at a press conference."

UPDATE: Fraser Yachts, as the yacht's management company, released a statement confirming that Force Blue was seized near La Spezia by the Italian Guardia di Finanza. It clarified that the boat's arrest is related to VAT owed on fuel purchased.

Fraser Yachts says: "Fraser Yachts’ team of yacht management and charter experts is in direct contact with the yacht’s Captain on a regular basis and is not aware of any contravention of the legal or financial requirements, as set out by the Italian authorities, by either the owning company, Captain or beneficial owner." The statement goes on to say that current VAT regulations can appear inconsistent and confusing and that this incident looks to be the result of confusion and not of any wrongdoing on the part of the owning company. It also states that Force Blue is chartered 14 weeks a year.

A story on says that the unpaid duty on fuel may run up to €500,000 as non-EU-registered vessels must leave the EU within eight hours of purchasing duty-free fuel. The article also said that four million euros in unpaid VAT may be owed on the yacht as well.


Below is a video of the yacht's arrest.

  • Beware, the authorities are about to go hard on all yachts, Italy, France and Spain. I hear in Spain that they are waiting for the yachts to fill the marinas then pounce. My only fear is that in Italy and Spain, that the authorities won´t know the full details of what they are looking for, whereas in France, they know very well what they are looking for.
    We were recently in a port in Italy, where there were 3 authorities all vying for the same thing, what a mess....
    Why the hell doesn´t the EU sort out the port requirements and make them the same for every nautical country. This is why we have such a conflict in what documents a yacht requires for entry into a port or country. Italy has gone way overboard in the paper war, France is very relaxed, Spain, well even more relaxed than France. But as they all see opportunities to add the extra Euro, then be prepared for greater costs in entering ports. Of course our wonderful big bright and beautiful US of A hasn´t helped with any of this, imposing on us all, ridiculous beaurocratic OTT paper requirements in our every day life. Big, Bright and Bungled America.
    Posted by Capt Kaj 23/06/2010 10:32:55

  • Captcct, read that as "Registered Outside of the European Union, in the Cayman Islands." It's poorly written, but obvious from the context.
    Posted by Henning_1 22/05/2010 02:26:04

  • week and as result is registered out of the European Union, in the Cayman Islands...

    How interesting! I didn't realize that the Cayman Islands was part of the EU. I shall have to go and reset my GPS co-ordinates for George Town to be next to Monaco. LOL
    Anyway, I expect this is just a means for Italy and its Guardi di Finanza to screw this chap so they can cash in before joining Greece and Spain go down the financial toilet. But as they are like the Mafia, and as Briatore has his connections I am sure this will be all do about nothing.
    Posted by captcct_1 22/05/2010 01:00:07

  • If it turns out that they are guilty of the charge, then you just can't feel sorry for them. Obviously they could afford to have an attorney give them advice. If they chose to play chicken with the tax man,and got caught, then pay up or abide by the terms of the registry and charter the boat. Not rocket science.
    Posted by JakeG 21/05/2010 21:02:44

  • I would expect to see much more of this as the Economy hurls down hill in the EU.
    Posted by Ron_9 21/05/2010 19:35:45

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