(Rome) Italian influencer star Chiara Ferragni is under investigation for fraud in a charity sale of pandoro, traditional Christmas buns, an accusation she denied on Tuesday, citing her ” sincerity “.
Famous in the world of fashion, the blogger followed by nearly 30 million subscribers on Instagram, is at the heart of a scandal over the sponsorship she granted to a brand of pandoro, a brioche similar to panettone, marketed in November 2022, suggesting that part of the proceeds would be donated to benefit children suffering from bone cancer at the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin.
Italy’s competition watchdog discovered last month that buyers were in fact being misled. The profit from the sale of this special edition of the Balocco brand pandoro brought in more than one million euros ($1.5 million) for the companies owned by Chiara while the company had limited itself to making several months a lump sum donation of 50,000 euros ($73,000) to the hospital.
The 36-year-old businesswoman’s lawyer, Giuseppe Iannaccone, confirmed to AFP on Tuesday that his client had been officially cited by the Milan public prosecutor’s office in this case of aggravated fraud. This procedural step does not imply guilt, but demonstrates the existence of sufficient evidence to place the person in question under preliminary investigation.
Contacted by AFP, the Milan public prosecutor’s office did not respond.
“I am calm because I have always acted in good faith and I am certain that this will emerge from the ongoing investigations,” Chiara Ferragni said in a statement sent by her lawyer.
In December, the competition watchdog fined two of his companies and Balocco 1.4 million euros ($2 million) for leading consumers to believe that buying the “pink Christmas Pandora” would help to a charitable action.
In a statement, Balocco said he was “deeply sorry that the initiative was misunderstood by many.” “We will collaborate with the authorities – in whom we have every confidence – and are confident that our absolute good faith will emerge,” the company said.
Since launching a successful fashion blog fifteen years ago, Chiara Ferragni has built a multi-million dollar empire, launching her own brand and forging lucrative partnerships with major brands.
Her success is traced in Unposted, a documentary about her life as an influencer and entrepreneur which was one of the highlights of the 76th Venice Film Festival in September 2019.
The “Pandoro Gate”, as it was called by the Italian media, which has been making headlines about it for weeks, has damaged the glamorous image of the star.
Daily La Repubblica reported last week that Coca-Cola had backed out of an ad with it that was due to air in January, while eyewear maker Safilo ended a licensing deal in December.
Chiara Ferragni admitted in December in a video posted on Instagram a “communication error”, for having linked a charitable action to a commercial activity, adding that she was going to donate one million euros to the hospital.
She faces another similar investigation according to media reports, this time over the charity sale of Easter eggs, which according to newspaper Il Fatto quotidiano earned her 500,000 euros ($730,000) in 2021 and 700 000 euros ($1 million) in 2022, but only 36,000 euros ($53,000) to the children’s charity that was to benefit.
Forming one of the most popular couples on social networks with Italian rapper Fedez, Chiara Ferragni became known in 2009 with her fashion blog called The Blonde Salad.
She then launched her own shoe collection in 2015, before collaborating with several fashion brands, including Dior and Chanel, and becoming an entrepreneur with, in addition to her blog, commercial activities including an online store.