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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy Investigates Crimes of Fashion

ROME -- It wasn't the usual glamorous runway or the usual admiring crowd.

Some of the top figures in Italy's fashion world were parading through Milan's gray and gloomy Palace of Justice this week to be questioned by Antonio Di Pietro, the anti-corruption prosecutor who has brought down some of the biggest names in politics and business.

First came Santo Versace, brother and business head of Gianni Versace's fashion empire. Then it was the turn of Mariuccia Mandelli, alias Krizia, and luxury jeweler Gianmaria Buccellati.

As he has with such top businesses as Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest media and retailing empire, Di Pietro was investigating whether bribes had been paid to tax inspectors in exchange for ignoring infractions, news reports said.

A number of top businessmen including Berlusconi's brother, Paolo, have been implicated in the probe, the latest development in more than two years of investigations that had previously uncovered systematic kickbacks to political parties in exchange for lucrative public works contracts. Tax inspectors have also been jailed amid claims by businessmen that they had been shaken down.

The fashion figures questioned by Di Pietro declined to comment on the investigation.

But Giorgio Armani, one of Italy's glamor fashion names, appeared to take it in stride.

"Fashion is part of the business reality of Italy and therefore I don't see why (the probe) should cause particular surprise or an outcry," the Turin newspaper La Stampa quoted Armani as saying Wednesday.