Italy's financial police said Thursday they had busted close to 12,000 people last year for evading over 56 billion euros ($74 billion) worth of taxes. Investigators rooted out 8,617 people who had never paid taxes and owed the Italian tax man a total of 22.7 billion euros, the financial police said in a statement. Police also honed in on those using fake companies in tax havens to evade paying their dues, calculating 17.1 billion euros in Italian taxes were owed. Some 16.3 billion euros in "other forms of evasion" brought the total to 56.1 billion euros and police reported 11,769 people last year on suspicion of dodging tax. The crack down on tax evaders in Italy intensified when Prime Minister Mario Monti came to power at the end of 2011, as the government attempted to reduce the country's deficit and debt. The financial police also uncovered over 16,000 people working on the black market, the statement said. "We are continuing to act to recover resources stolen from the state," said police chief Saverio Capolupo.