Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore has had EUR1.5 million seized from bank accounts by Italian authorities according to reports in the Italian press.

A range of reports have suggested that authorities have made the move as they investigate alleged tax fraud linked to the use of his luxury yacht Force Blue, which was impounded by police and tax authorities last year.

The investigation centres around the use of the boat, which had been registered as a charter vessel outside the EU but was being used solely for personal use in European waters - with the decision to register it elsewhere effectively meaning it was being used as a tax break.

"This operation was ongoing for a year and resulted in the impounding of Flavio Briatore's yacht," Italian police chief Captain Giuseppe Pappalardo was quoted as telling reporters by "Basically it is a matter of contraband because Signor Briatore is an EU citizen and the boat has been registered outside the European Union, so if he uses it in European waters then VAT applies.

"Foreign-registered boats are exempt from fuel taxes but only if they leave EU waters within eight hours of refuelling."

Sources suggest Briatore is currently staying at his coastal resort in Kenya.