In what may be the world’s most expensive pudding, an Italian businessman watched €40,000 go up in smoke when his girlfriend baked a strudel in the oven he used to hide cash.

Alberto Vazzoler, 52, a former dentist from the northern town of San Donà di Piave, had forgotten to warn his partner, Silvia Moro, about his stash.

Details of the domestic accident emerged at his trial in Padua for money laundering and tax evasion.

An investigator told the court that Moro sent a WhatsApp message to her sister in 2016 saying: “I’ve done a stupid thing. I put a strudel in the oven to cook where €40,000 was hidden.”

Vazzoler, who has homes in Montecarlo, Jesolo and Padua, made his fortune through Net Fraternity, a Dublin-based company that went bust in 2010. Founded in 1999, it offered pay-to-surf services with internet users rewarded by spending time looking at adverts. Officially unemployed, Vazzoler is said to have owned two motor yachts and luxury cars including a Maserati Levante and a Jaguar XK.

He is accused of laundering more than €46 million for people across Europe. He and his alleged accomplices, including Moro, are accused of channelling funds to Dubai and offshore tax havens such as the Bahamas. Part of the ‘washing’ process involved converting cash to gold.

Conversations recorded by police in Vazzoler’s Porsche Macan revealed that he had learnt the lesson of the strudel. In 2016, two years before his arrest, he was allegedly recorded telling his girlfriend: “I’m frightened of having so much cash, enough of that. I’ve taken the money, I’ll pay for my trials and then I’ll take off.”