Mario La Via, CEO of Privilege Yard, and Antonio Baptist, Privilege’s only board member and accountable for the management of its finances, have, according to a number of Italian news publications, been placed under house arrest by the public prosecutor of Civitavecchia pending charges relating to fraudulent bankruptcy, a falsified balance sheet, tax crimes and the contravention of anti-mafia legislation.
According to the reports, Privilege Yard, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and the production of its 127m motoryacht, Project One, were created as vehicles for the illegal pooling of funds, gathered from a variety of banks, and the subsequent distribution of these funds to various individuals.
Those named among the suspected beneficiaries of this fund include Tarcisio Bertone, the former Vatican secretary of state, Mario Baldassarri, a former member of the Italian parliament, and Pasqualino Monti, president of the Civitavecchia Port Authority.
It is alleged that a consortium of banks, consisting of Etruria, Banca Marche, Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, Bpm and Mps, granted a total of €190 million to Privilege Yard in 2006 in order to fund Project One, of which €125 million was actually transferred to the yard.
The reports also suggest that much of the credit provided by the aforementioned banks is now tied up in tax havens, beyond the reach of the lenders, with €63 million controlled by Privilege Yacht Company Inc., which is registered to an office in the British Virgin Islands.
Project One’s credit has also allegedly funded: €320,00 spent by La Via and Baptist on two cars, a Ferrari and a Maserati; a €4 million renovation of La Via’s home and rent – at three times the market rate – for Monti’s apartment. Further documentation suggests that around €700,000 was paid, on behalf of Tarcisio Bertone, to various associations worldwide.