Saturday, December 18, 2010

Did Donatella Versace Tell Fibs in a Sydney Court ?

The Social Shuttle attended an end of year get-together of city lawyers on Friday afternoon and talk  about the Versace / Mafia claims arose.
Respected Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi has just published a book Metastasi about a notorious branch of the Calabrian Mafia called the  Ndrangheta. 
Nuzzi says the annual turnover of the Ndrangheta is around €44Billion ( $A59B) and can "influence free trade between countries". 

Nuzzi  says he called his book Metastasi ( 'growing cancer') after the wife of his main informant died of cancer.  Much of Nuzzi's information comes from Giuseppi de Bela a former Ndrangheta godfather and supergrass who turned on the Mafia after the death of his wife and the realization that Ndrangheta was a growing cancer on Italian life. 

The journalist and his co-author Claudio Antonelli believe the Calabrian Mafia can only be defeated with the same forces used to defeat the terrorism of Al Quaeda.

The 2 writers submitted their manuscript to Italy's Anti-Mafia office in Rome. They've opened an investigation into the book's claims as they say di Bella has never been wrong with his information in the past and he has been instrumental in helping jail hundreds of mafia members.

Nuzzi & di Bela say that the fashion designer Gianni Versace, gunned down in front of his Miami house in 1998 was killed by a Mafia hit man and not the serial killer Andrew Cunanan.  di Bella says Versace was murdered because  he owed the Ndrangheta millions of dollars and the mob were laundering up to $200M a year via the Versace fashion empire.

Which brings us back to Friday drinks. One of the  lawyers worked on a legal matter nine years ago in the Federal Court when Gianni's siblings Donatella and Santo Versace  hauled the international private eye Frank Monte into court over a book  The Spying Game in which the PI basically made the same claims as di Bela.
Clive Evatt QC

Monte had worked for Gianni investigating thefts the designer thought where happening inside his empire.

The Versaces spent $4.3M pursuing Monte and won their case. 25000 copies of Monte's book were pulped.

Donatella Versace gave evidence via a video link from Italy, surrounded by lawyers. Under questioning from Clive Evatt QC, defending Monte, the subject of drugs surfaced. Evatt asked Donatella if she had ever taken illicit drugs. 

She emphatically denied that she had ever touched an illicit drug in her life.

Fast forward to 2005 and the May edition of US Vogue. Donatella is being interviewed. and reveals that she has been "addicted to drugs for 18 years"

She said "cocaine used to be a lot of fun . . . I had the best time of my life . You just feel more awake, more aware. Unfortunately, it doesn't continue like that. So I just kept doing it, every time I was in New York, in Los Angeles, mostly at parties," the then 50-year-old designer revealed. 

Donatella said she only refused drugs when Gianni was murdered in 1997  but the break didn't last long.

"Gianni wasn't there. I had to organize my company, my family. My whole life changed completely. I didn't even think about doing it. But it wasn't as though I was going to stop my behavior forever. I wish I had."   

Then she tried a new trick: she began mixing cocaine with Valium and Rohypnol. 
Says Donatella ".. if I wouldn't use the cocaine to have the fake happiness, I wouldn't be able to go to those people, because I'm so unhappy, so lonely, because I hate myself."  Friends including Sir Elton John persuaded her to enter rehab.

"And what does this mean" we asked our legal friend. 

"The word perjury springs to mind" was the reply."She was using drugs for years before and after her brother was murdered yet it appears she lied under oath".

Could Donatella end up back in a Sydney court to explain her denial ten years ago to Evatt QC that she "had never  ever used drugs" ?.

"Watch this space" said our legal eagle, "there is much more happening than that " was his enigmatic reply.

Santo Versace has emphatically denied the claims about Gianni's murder and that the Versace label was used to launder Mafia money. Gianluigi Nuzzi says he would have no problem defending his book and the claims in court.

 Will Frank Monte return to the Federal Court to have the orders lifted that banned him from discussing the Versace revelations that are now in the public domain ?. Last night he hadn't returned our calls.

Harpo Coughs Up :

the Shuttle has heard that the security guards laid off during the Big O tour of Australia will be paid for the days they worked after all.
The minders were relieved of their duties when one entered Oprah Winfrey's Sydney hotel room to check for intruders. It seems they had signed strict confidentiality clauses when hired to look after her which forbade them either engaging Oprah in conversation or entering her hotel suite.

So that's a Merry Christmas to the 12 from the great woman who took Oz by storm.