Former Italian PM Berlusconi gets 4 years for tax fraud 9 replies

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ReLoaD

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#1 5 years ago

I must say I wasn't expecting this, attempts to convict Berlusconi before were attempted when he was PM but usually over corruption and other things. I guess tax evasion was one he couldn't worm his way out of. He won't go to jail yet though until he appeals his case, and he has been able to get cleared in the past by doing this.

UPDATE 2-Italy's Berlusconi sentenced to jail for tax fraud | Reuters

Spoiler: Show

UPDATE 2-Italy's Berlusconi sentenced to jail for tax fraud 12:59pm EDT * Former premier convicted over Mediaset TV rights * Will not serve jail time pending appeal * Political ally says Berlusconi "persecuted" (Adds reaction, details, background) By Sara Rossi MILAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in jail on Friday for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.

The 76-year-old billionaire, who was convicted three times during the 1990s in the first degree before being cleared by higher courts, has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before the sentence becomes definitive. He will not be jailed unless he loses the final appeal.

The ruling comes two days after Berlusconi confirmed he would not run in next year's elections as the leader of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, ending almost 19 years as the dominant politician of the centre-right.

Milan judge Edoardo d'Avossa told a packed court that between 2000 and 2003, there had been "a very significant amount of tax evasion" and "an incredible mechanism of fraud" in place around the buying and selling of broadcast rights. The court's written ruling said Berlusconi showed a "natural capacity for crime". Berlusconi lawyers Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini said the the ruling was "totally divorced from all judicial logic", adding that they hoped the "atmosphere" at the appeals courts would be different.

Berlusconi, one of Italy's richest men, became prime minister for a second time in 2001 after winning a landslide election victory. Even while he was prime minister, he remained in effective charge of Mediaset even though he had handed over control of day-to-day operations, the court said. The four-time prime minister and other Mediaset executives stood accused of inflating the price paid for TV rights via offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi and skimming off part of the money to create illegal slush funds.

The investigation focused on television and cinema rights that Berlusconi's holding company Fininvest bought via offshore companies from Hollywood studios.

The court also ordered damages provisionally set at 10 million euros ($13 million) to be paid by Berlusconi and his co-defendants to tax authorities.

"POLITICAL HOMICIDE"

The flamboyant Berlusconi, who is still on trial in a separate prostitution case, resigned as prime minister a year ago as Italy faced a Greek-style debt crisis, handing the reins of government to economics professor Mario Monti.

Angelino Alfano, secretary of the PDL, said the ruling proved once again "judicial persecution" of the media magnate, while political rival Antonio Di Pietro, a former magistrate, hailed the decision, saying "the truth has been exposed".

Should the ruling be confirmed on appeal, Berlusconi would also be forbidden from holding public office for five years, and from being a company executive for three years.

"This is not a sentence, but an attempt at political homicide," Fabrizio Chicchito, the PDL's chief whip in the Chamber of Deputies, said referring to the ban from holding office.

Now that Berlusconi has said he will pull out of politics, he may be focusing more on his business empire, which includes Mediaset, AC Milan soccer club, and Internet bank Mediolanum.

Shares in Mediaset, Italy's biggest private broadcaster, fell as much as 3 percent after the ruling, and are down about 50 percent in the last year.

The broadcaster has been struggling against rivals like News Corp's broadcaster Sky Italia and a host of online media, while its core advertising revenues are feeling the pinch of the recession.

The court acquitted Mediaset chairman and long-term Berlusconi friend Fedele Confalonieri, for whom prosecutors had sought a sentence of three years and four months.

Berlusconi has owned AC Milan since 1986 and they have been European champions five times under his leadership. But the club's fortunes have dipped in the past couple of seasons amid cost cutting, prompting repeated rumours of its possible sale.

He also is still on trial in the separate "Rubygate" case in which he is accused of paying for sex with a teenaged nightclub dancer when she was under 18 and thus too young to be paid legally as a prostitute. He denies the charges. ($1 = 0.7716 euros) (Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni. Writing by Lisa Jucca and Steve Scherer; Editing by James Mackenzie and Michael Roddy)

The article also points out that he is still not yet charged on another trial involving an underage prostitute.




ReLoaD

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#2 5 years ago

Scratch that, they already reduced the potential sentence to one year, lol.

BBC News - Silvio Berlusconi sentenced for tax fraud

The Milan court sentenced him to four years but later cut it to one year because of an amnesty law. ...

The article has more background info on Italian politics if you want to read the whole thing.




Kamikazee

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#3 5 years ago

Amnesty law? I seem to remember Berlusconi being responsible for such laws in his time.

Too bad that he will get away like this. He was like a living stereotype and an awful example of just how low a democracy can sink.




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#4 5 years ago

Berscoluni is hilarious. Even before he went into politics he had already committed perjury. It reminds me of the likes of Marion Barry and Buddy Cianci.




mario

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#5 5 years ago
MrFancypants;5668368Too bad that he will get away like this. He was like a living stereotype and an awful example of just how low a democracy can sink.

Isn't that kind of what Italian democracy is on a whole?




Kamikazee

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#6 5 years ago
Red Menace;5668392Isn't that kind of what Italian democracy is on a whole?

I guess. Their political system has been messed up for decades. Hopefully they'll turn the trend around, not very reassuring when you have people like that in your financial union.




ReLoaD

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#7 5 years ago
MrFancypants;5668368Amnesty law? I seem to remember Berlusconi being responsible for such laws in his time.

All I can find about the law was that it was passed in 2006. This might have meant that it was passed by the Prodi government that interrupted Berlusconi's time in government. So there would be an element of irony here that something passed by the opposition when they were in government benefitted Berlusconi.

I think when this prison amnesty law was passed to alleviate overcrowding, it was targetted to cut down on prison costs as well as alleviate the problems placed on former prisoners by the legal system in Italy that gave such sentences. Somehow I don't think people like Berlusconi were what the law's writers had in mind.




Kamikazee

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#8 5 years ago

Commissar MercZ;5668419All I can find about the law was that it was passed in 2006. This might have meant that it was passed by the Prodi government that interrupted Berlusconi's time in government. So there would be an element of irony here that something passed by the opposition when they were in government benefitted Berlusconi.

I think when this prison amnesty law was passed to alleviate overcrowding, it was targetted to cut down on prison costs as well as alleviate the problems placed on former prisoners by the legal system in Italy that gave such sentences. Somehow I don't think people like Berlusconi were what the law's writers had in mind.

Ok, seems I confused it with this law: Lodo Alfano - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




ReLoaD

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#9 5 years ago
MrFancypants;5668449Ok, seems I confused it with this law: Lodo Alfano - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wow no wonder why that was struck down as unconstitutional. I remember another law that Berlusconi was using to avoid appearing in court, one that allows serving members of government to do so on grounds that they can not have their job interrupted.

Unsurprisingly Berlusconi hasn't been phased by this at all. He's not only signaled that he wants to stay involved in politics, but more recently he has called on his party to withdraw support for Mario Monti, the current PM and head of the technocratic government handling economic problems that replaced Berlusconi after he resigned. If he follows throw with this threat it would force early elections.




SeinfeldisKindaOk

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#10 5 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5668366Scratch that, they already reduced the potential sentence to one year, lol.

Even his prison sentences are underage.