Italy fully backs EU tobacco smuggling suit
ROME, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Finance Minister Ottaviano Del Turco on Wednesday said Italy fully supported the EU's lawsuit against several tobacco multi-national companies accused of evading taxes by smuggling cigarettes into the 15-nation bloc.
``We adhere and and we will offer a structure of support, including law firms, to protect Italy's interests,'' he told a news conference.
Del Turco said he could not quantify what Italy would seek in damages but added:
``It is enough to think that since we have intensified the effort against contraband cigarettes we have had 2.0 trillion lire more in revenues from foreign tobacco,'' he said.
The EU's executive Commission last November accused Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Japan Tobacco.
The EU lawsuit accuses the companies of ``involvement in organised crime in pursuit of a massive, ongoing smuggling scheme''.
The Commission is suing the companies for compensation for lost customs duties which could add up to billions of dollars.
The companies have said they will fight the suit.