Businessman stopped on Swiss border with £1.6m worth of gold in his car

An Italian man attempting to cross the Swiss border has had 50 kg (110 lb) of gold seized by police.

The gold, worth around £1.6m (€2m), was found in a hidden compartment in his car. The businessman and his daughter, who was also in the car, have both been charged with smuggling.

The incident underlines a growing trend of Italians who are seeking to move wealth to Switzerland - funds that Italy is trying to have the Swiss authorities tax retroactively. Exports to Switzerland from the financially stricken country rose 35% year-on-year in February, with the Italian statistics office admitting it was mostly due to “sales of non-monetary gold”.

The amount of gold exported from Italy is jumping year on year, with 120 tonnes of the stuff moved to Switzerland in 2011 [a 65% rise on 2010]. As the Italian economic outlook continues to worsen, many have chosen to buy gold in order to retain wealth.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has promised a crackdown on tax evasion as it was claimed that more than £96 billion [€119.6bn] in taxes were dodged Italy in 2009.