Fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, founders of the world-famous fashion label Dolce & Gabbana, were sentenced in Milan today to a suspended 18-month jail term after their conviction in a long-running tax-fraud case was upheld.

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Italy’s appeals court upheld a verdict issued last June against the pair, who are as famous as the stars they dress, on charges of using Luxembourg holding company Gado to avoid paying taxes on royalties of about 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion).

The sentence was reduced from 20 months because the statute of limitations applied to certain facts in the case.

A lawyer for Dolce and Gabbana, who have always denied any wrongdoing, said they would appeal the decision. “I am speechless. We are all shocked. The judgment is inexplicable and we will appeal,” Massimo Dinoia said after the judgment.

The court also upheld a stiff fine and sentenced four others — three Dolce & Gabbana managers, including Dolce’s brother Alfonso, and a tax consultant — to suspended prison terms ranging from 14 to 18 months.

“I am speechless. I am flabbergasted. We will definitely appeal,” said Massimo Dinoia, a lawyer for the designers. In Italy, rulings can be challenged twice before they are final.


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