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Fiat founder's grandson will not face charges over escort claim

Prosecutors have dropped a criminal charge against the playboy grandson of the Italian founder of Fiat Automobiles.

Lapo Elkann was suspected of falsely claiming he was being held against his will by an escort in New York City.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said it had declined to prosecute Mr Elkann and had no further comment.

The 39-year-old was arrested outside a public housing project in December after his family contacted police, telling them Mr Elkann had demanded 10,000 dollars (£7,900) from them to "guarantee his safety", officials said.

But investigators believe Mr Elkann concocted the whole story and made up the false imprisonment tale after he ran out of money following a two-day drinking and drug binge with the escort.

His lawyer, Randy Zelin, said he presented information to prosecutors, who did an exhaustive review before determining no crime had been committed.

"We are very fortunate the district attorney listened to us and conducted a thorough investigation," said Mr Zelin.

Mr Elkann, who was born in New York City, is the grandson of Gianni Agnelli, who for decades ran Turin-based Fiat Automobiles and its affiliated companies.

He is part of the shareholding family but has no role in the company.

Mr Elkann made headlines in Italy in 2005 after he was taken to hospital for a drug overdose in the Italian city of Turin.

He told an Italian TV interviewer two years later that his past cocaine use had been a "mistake".

In recent years he has focused on design, with his Italia Independent company most famous for carbon fibre sunglasses.

He has also designed furniture and collaborated on a Gucci design for the new Fiat 500.

AP

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