The Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s financial police, have seized EUR4.6m ($5.2m) in funds belonging to Malta-based Heron Ventures in a tax evasion case linked to the 2014 $93m purchase and subsequent sale of ships belonging to defunct Deiulemar Shipping.
The prosecutor from the Court of Torre Annunziata in Naples has ruled that Heron Ventures’ day-to-day management was in the hands of Augustea’s top managers based in Naples therefore the company was Italian although formally based in Malta.
Heron Ventures was jointly controlled by ABY Holding shareholders (Augustea, Bunge and York Capital) and Petros Pappas’ Oceanbulk. The Italian group, Augustea, owned by the Zagari family had a 5% share in Heron.
The Naples court had demanded Heron Ventures pay EUR4.6m taxes on the capital gains obtained (€16.8m in total) from the sale of the 12 vessels taken from Deiulemar, with prosecutors noting Heron paid just a few thousand Euros in taxes to Maltese authorities from the sale. Prosecutors insist Heron was Italian, not a real Maltese company.