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Italian government levels tax fraud accusation at Apple, raids local HQ

Authorities have seized equipment from Apple's Italian headquarters in the course of an investigation into accusations that the company shielded more than €1 billion in profits from Italy's tax authorities, according to a new report out of Milan.

Apple's Via Roma store in Torino, Italy

Apple's Italian operation is said to have underreported taxable income of €206 million in 2010 and €853 million in 2011. The accusations were first reported by Italian publication l'Espresso and later confirmed by Reuters, citing sources in the Italian judiciary system.

The complaint alleges that the income was booked to Apple's Irish holding company, but should have been reported to Italian tax authorities as income derived from activities in Italy. The investigation includes two unnamed middle managers from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

Apple has reportedly challenged the seizure order that followed a search of the company's headquarters in Milan, and Italian appeals courts will take up the question of its validity. A timeline for that action was not specified.

l'Espresso notes that this would mark the second Italian inquest into Apple's tax strategy in the country. The first is said to have been closed for lack of evidence.