Flavio Briatore was sentenced to 18 months in jail by an Italian appeals court on Saturday, on tax evasion charges linked to his mega-yacht 'Force Blue'
The former Benetton and Renault F1 boss, whose yacht was seized by tax authorities in 2010, saw his sentence reduced from 23 months, despite the prosecutor pleading for a four-year sentence.
Italian investigators allegedly uncovered a scheme by which the 63-metre yacht was registered to a company domiciled in the Virgin Islands, but used exclusively by Briatore for his personal use.
The flamboyant business tycoon claims he does not own the yacht, and merely rented it from its parent company.
But as the beneficiary of the Virgin Islands off-shore entity, he is the de facto owner of 'Force Blue', and therefore must be held liable for payment of VAT taxes estimated at €3.6-million and fuel duties worth €800,000 between 2006 and 2010.
Briatore was also found guilty of issuing false invoices. The Italian's lawyers said they were deterlmined to the sentence once again.
"We take note of the judge's decision and will appeal to the supreme court. We are convinced of Mr Briatore's innocence."