According to Italy's financial police, the Halfords Media Italy S.r.l., one of the companies used by PokerStars for marketing activities in the country, is currently under investigation for a €300 million tax fraud.
Contacted by PokerNews, Head of Corporate Communication at PokerStars Eric Hollreiser said to be confident that the issue will be resolved soon as "PokerStars has been working with Italian tax authorities since they launched an audit several years ago."
Also, Hollreiser assured that the investigation is not going to affect the functioning of the poker room as the company's operations will "continue as usual on www.pokerstars.it, and we remain focused on delivering the most popular online poker service in the Italian market."
In a note sent to the press on Wednesday, the Italian authorities announced that the CEO of Halfords Media has been formally charged with tax fraud, and explained how they believe that the company have allegedly omitted to declare profits for approximately €300 million between 2009 and 2014.
Rome's division of Italy's financial police declared that "the discovery of a significant tax evasion — part of a bigger operation dubbed 'ALL-IN' — allowed the authorities to understand the real market value of the transactions that occurred between different companies part of an international group, and this will allow them to get back the income that was not declared to the country's tax office."
According to the authorities, Halfords Media would have purposefully misreported part of its revenues in order to avoid the country's high taxation on gambling services. To do so, the investigators believe that the company has used transfer pricing methods to move its income where fiscally convenient (Isle of Man or Malta) while keeping the costs in Italy.
"PokerStars has been working with Italian tax authorities since they launched an audit several years ago," Hollreiser told PokerNews. "We have operated in compliance with the applicable local tax regulations and have paid €120 million over the period covered by the audit."
Hollreiser continued, "Like many other global e-commerce companies, we vigorously dispute the stance of the tax authority regarding local establishment. The audit is ongoing and we hope to resolve the issue in our favor soon. In the meantime, our operations continue as usual on www.pokerstars.it and we remain focused on delivering the most popular online poker service in the Italian market."
PokerStars is only one of the many international online companies that are under scrutiny from Italy's financial police. During the past months, other tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon have been requested to provide information about their services in the country in order to understand whether they have all being paying the correct taxes on their profits.