Genoa - The Genoa Court of Appeal has sentenced Italian entrepreneur Flavio Briatore to 18 months in prison. He, together with four others, was charged with tax fraud connected with the leasing of the superyacht Force Blue, which was initially seized off the coast of La Spezia by Italian law enforcement agents in May 2010; at the time, Briatore’s wife, Elisabetta Gregoraci, her son, and about twenty crew members were aboard the yacht. Prosecutors had asked for a four-year prison sentence. The trial’s initial phase saw a 23-month suspended sentence being passed, as well as the seizure of the yacht. According to the prosecution, Briatore and the other four defendants used the superyacht for recreational purposes in Italian territorial waters from July 2006 to May 2010 without paying outstanding VAT duty worth €3.6 million. Furthermore, they unlawfully declared the yacht’s fuel as exempt from duty, and issued invoices for non-existent transactions. On appeal, the yacht’s captain, Ferdinando Tarquini, was given an 18-months sentence. Dominique Warluzel, one of the administrators of the firm that owns the yacht, Autumn Sailing, also received an 18-month sentence. Co-accused Maria Pia De Fusco, an administrator until 2008, had her case dropped due to statute of limitations. Proceedings were dropped as well for Laurence Eckle Teyssedou, another of the firm’s administrators. The ruling confirmed the seizure of Force Blue, that will only be allowed to sail under special administration.