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HOUSE ARREST: A Chinese former model who shot to fame in the early Nineties following high-profile collaborations with Laura Biagiotti is under house arrest after being brought up on money laundering charges by Italian police.
Two decades ago, 42-year-old model Xiao Dong Mei was part of Biagiotti’s exclusive coterie. In February 1995, Dong Mei accompanied Biagiotti to Russia for a four-day fashion extravaganza culminating in a runway show at the Kremlin — the first of its kind in Moscow by a Western fashion designer. After Dong Mei enjoyed a lucrative modeling career, she broke into Italian TV in 1993 and added game show host and showgirl to her resume. On Tuesday, Italian police arrested Dong Mei and her 47-year-old husband, Italian accountant Federico Di Lauro, while they were vacationing in Ponza on their 56-foot yacht.
Di Lauro was jailed in Rome on a series of charges, the largest offense stemming from a Ponzi scheme that he allegedly ran with two co-conspirator ex-bankers, earning him the nickname “The Madoff of Parioli,” alluding to the neighborhood of his Rome office.
Speaking to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Thursday, the ex-model asserted her and her husband’s innocence.