Berlusconi Sentenced To Four Years In Jail for tax fraud
Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud connected to his television channels. An Italian court delivered the verdict on Friday against the former Italian leader and 10 others in a six-year-old tax fraud trial. He has also been barred from holding political office for three years.
In Italy, cases must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final. Berlusconi is expected to appeal.
The verdict comes two days after Berlusconi, 76, announced he will not run for premier in upcoming elections.
During the trial prosecutors alleged the defendants were behind a scheme to purchase the rights to broadcast US movies on Berlusconi’s private Mediaset television networks through a series of offshore companies and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes.
Prosecutors further alleged they inflated the price for the TV rights of some 3,000 films as they relicensed them internally to Berlusconi’s networks, pocketing the difference amounting to around €250m (£200m).
Other charges of false accounting and false statements in financial reports were thrown out because the statute of limitations expired.
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.
Berlusconi has been tried numerous times for his business dealings. He has always denied wrongdoing and alleged that the cases were politically motivated. In each case to date, he has been cleared or seen the statute of limitations expire.
The statute of limitations in this case is set to expire sometime next year. Many commentators say it’s far from sure that he’ll ever get near a prison due to long appeals process and statute of limitations.
Berlusconi also is on trial in Milan on charges of paying for sex with a prostitute and trying to cover it up.
Posted By: Anonymous Liverpool