Fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana were slapped with a 20-month prison sentence Wednesday for tax evasion, an Italian court decided.
The suspended sentence for Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana stems from claims that the men hid hundreds of millions of euros from the tax authorities, Reuters reported.
The designers, who are nearly as famous as the stars they dress, were not present in court in Milan and are unlikely to spend any time in jail given the complexity and length of the appeals process.
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Public prosecutor Gaetano Ruta had asked for two and a half years. The judge gave them a suspended sentence.
The pair have always said they are innocent.
"Everyone knows that we haven't done anything," Gabbana tweeted in June 2012 after the trial was ordered.
But Gabbana's only reaction so far on Wednesday was to tweet a close-up photograph of the branch of a colorful citrus tree, a symbol of Sicily which is the duo's signature, just seconds after the verdict.
A company spokesman declined to make an immediate comment.
The success of Dolce and Gabbana's sexy corset dresses and sharply tailored suits favored by celebrities like Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss, and Bryan Ferry have earned them a glamorous lifestyle.
They hosted friend and client Madonna for her birthday in 2009 at their villa perched above the chic boating resort of Portofino.
The case dates back to an investigation that began in 2008, when authorities unleashed a tax avoidance crackdown as the financial crisis began to bite. But the probe that ensnared the two designers is one of the few high-profile cases to come to trial so far.
The judge on Wednesday ruled that the pair sold their brand to Luxembourg-based holding company Gado in 2004 to avoid declaring taxes on royalties of about 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
The pair's flamboyant designs are inspired by the sultry southern Italian island of Sicily, where Dolce was born in 1958. He met Gabbana, now 50, in the latter's hometown of Milan, where they showed their first collection in 1985. The brand took hold internationally in the 1990s and global revenues hit just under 1.5 billion euros in 2011.
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