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Berlusconi sentenced to 4 years for tax fraud

A court in Italy has convicted former premier Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison.

The conviction was the 76-year-old media mogul's first in a long series of trials, but it did not mean he was going to prison right away. Cases in Italy must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final.

His lawyers declined to comment immediately, but the billionaire businessman is expected to appeal. Berlusconi was not in the courtroom for the verdict on the case stemming from dealings in his Mediaset business empire.

A total of 11 people were on trial. Prosecutors had alleged that the defendants were behind a scheme to purchase the rights to broadcast US movies on Berlusconi's private TV networks in his Mediaset empire through a series of offshore companies and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes.

Berlusconi's designated political heir as the head of the centre-right party he leads, Angelino Alfano, described the verdict as "incomprehensible" and said he was confident an appeals court would throw out the conviction.

In this and other cases against him, Berlusconi has described himself as the innocent victim of prosecutors he contends sympathise with the left. Up until now, other criminal investigation probes against him on charges including corruption had ended in acquittal or were thrown out for statute of limitations.

Of the other defendants, three were acquitted, including a close associate of Berlusconi, Fedele Confalonieri, chairman of Mediaset. Berlusconi and three others were convicted, including a Hollywood producer, Frank Agrama, who received a three-year sentence. Four defendants were cleared because statute of limitations had run out.

Berlusconi, along with other defendants convicted in the case, must deposit a total of 10 million euro (£8 million) into a court-ordered fund as appeals, which could take years, proceed.

The trial began in July 2006, but was put on hold by a now-defunct immunity law that shielded the Berlusconi from prosecution while he was premier until it was watered down by the constitutional court. The trial also faced delays as Berlusconi cited conflicts with his schedule as premier.

In the same courthouse on Friday, another criminal trial against Berlusconi was being held. He is charged in that case with paying for sex with an under-age girl and trying to cover it up. Berlusconi denies wrongdoing.

Comments

  • Bunga bunga!
  • Amazing isn't it. Sex with minors as well as numerous other indiscretions including assault and the thing that got him was not paying any tax.
  • Amazing isn't it. Sex with minors as well as numerous other indiscretions including assault and the thing that got him was not paying any tax.

    If it's good enough for Al Capone.....
  • I just heard that he won't go to prison as he recently passed a law that 70+ year olds would only be kept in house detention. He's covering all the angles :-)
  • as he has done for many years
  • Amazing isn't it. Sex with minors as well as numerous other indiscretions including assault and the thing that got him was not paying any tax.

    Not amazing, way of the sick world we live in

  • edited October 2012
    hmmmmm. done for tax fraud, eh? so, who's next? I could think of a few people who might be worried if they started doing this in the UK.

    but then again, they'll never tighten the tax laws enough to close the loopholes to stop companies and individuals avoiding billions in taxes

    http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/targets/3
  • The Savile of Sicily.
    Seriously though, he won't do a day in jail.
  • Only in Italy could a politician still remain credible after all of his problems. Thought his classic after the girl was found to be fourteen when he had sex with her was and I paraphrase " better to like women too much than to be gay" could you imagine Cameron getting away with saying that and not being driven from office.
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  • his four year sentence has been reduced to one year because prisons are full, and he won't even serve that since by the time he drags out two appeals the case will have been running over six years, so thanks to a law he brought in to spare a mate from prison he will also avoid prison.
  • hmmmmm. done for tax fraud, eh? so, who's next? I could think of a few people who might be worried if they started doing this in the UK.

    but then again, they'll never tighten the tax laws enough to close the loopholes to stop companies and individuals avoiding billions in taxes

    http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/targets/3

    You appear to have made the common mistake of confusing tax fraud/evasion (illegal), with tax avoidance (legal).

    Nothing says you are required to maximise the amount of tax you pay. Working within the law to minimise the tax you pay is perfectly legal.
  • Huskaris said:

    The Savile of Sicily.

    Little bit strong
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