Cake Maker in Influencer Charity Scandal Says it Acted in Good Faith

Balocco makes a popular Christmas cake known as pandoro.

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ROME (AP) β€” An Italian company that makes a popular Christmas cake said Tuesday it acted in "absolute good faith" in offering a special edition in 2022 featuring the logo of Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni that has landed both under investigation by prosecutors.

Italy's antitrust authority has already fined Ferragni 1 million euros, and the pandoro cake-maker Balocco SpA 420,000 euros. The authority last month accused Ferragni's companies and Balocco of having led consumers to believe that by buying the "Pandoro Pink Christmas" cake they would be contributing to a donation to a Turin hospital.

On Monday, prosecutors in Milan placed both Ferragni and Balocco President Alessandra Balocco under investigation for alleged aggravated fraud.

Ferragni, a fashion blogger-turned-influencer with 29.5 million Instagram followers, said she trusted the judiciary would show she acted in good faith. Balocco said in a statement Tuesday that it too was cooperating with prosecutors and was certain it had acted in "absolute good faith."

The antitrust authority said Balocco had made a one-time donation of 50,000 euros to the Regina Margherita hospital in Turin in November 2022, before the Ferragni-branded cakes launched, and didn't make any subsequent donations.

It said Ferragni's companies made 1 million euros to license her logo for the initiative. The Ferragni-branded cakes sold for 9 euros apiece rather than the usual 3.70 euro price tag, the antitrust authority said.

In the statement Tuesday, Balocco said the family-operated business has been upset by what Italian media have dubbed a "pandoro-gate" scandal. It said numerous incorrect news reports had circulated and said it was sorry that its initiative had been "misunderstood."

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