DHL’s Italian subsidiary investigated for tax fraud

FILE PHOTO: A DHL bike messenger rides in central Rome

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian tax police have seized assets worth more than 20 million euros ($24 million) from the local unit of logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL as part of a fraud investigation, a judicial document seen by Reuters showed on Monday.

Deutsche Post DHL confirmed that its Italian subsidiary DHL Supply Chain had been notified by prosecutors in Milan about an investigation centred on alleged tax irregularities.

“Since the company believes that it has always operated in full compliance with Italian tax laws, it will provide to the investigators all the cooperation needed to quickly and satisfactorily clarify its position,” Deutsche Post DHL said in a statement.

Milan prosecutors allege that a “transportation and logistics multinational” in Italy failed to pay value-added taxes and pension contributions due for staff, police said on Monday, by relying on contractors instead of hired workers.

The unnamed logistics company used workers provided by a consortium of 23 local cooperative firms, the police said. The asset seizure order, of which Reuters saw a copy, identified the company in question as Deutsche Post DHL’s Italian unit.

Police confirmed they had seized more than 20 million euros of assets following the investigation and searches in Milan and nearby cities.

The seizure order said two executives of the German firm’s Italian subsidiary were under investigation for tax fraud. Under Italian law, companies can be held responsible for crimes committed by their executives.

Milan prosecutors Giovanna Cavalleri and Paolo Storari said in the document that by using an external workforce, DHL Supply Chain had made significant savings on labour costs while exploiting workers and competing unfairly with rivals.

“Compliance is and always has been a core principle of all DHL business units and guides all our actions at Deutsche Post DHL Group,” the German company said.

($1 = 0.8230 euros)

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Additional reporting by Matthias Inverardi in Dusseldorf; Writing by Valentina Za; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Clarke)