Silvio Berlusconi

Former Italian PM Berlusconi sentenced to four years for tax fraud

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 10:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 11:12pm

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud connected to his Mediaset television channels Friday, and was banned from holding public office for three years by a Milan court.

Berlusconi was accused of having artificially inflated the price of film distribution rights bought by shell companies, then selling these back to his Mediaset empire.

The court also sentenced Berlusconi and 10 co-defendants to pay €10 million (US$13 million) to Italian tax authorities, a statement said.

The tax scam helped to create secret overseas accounts and reduce profits to pay fewer taxes in Italy.

The prosecution had asked for a prison sentence of three years and eight months for Berlusconi.

Prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale said in June that Mediaset costs for the films had been inflated by US$368 million from 1994 to 1998, and by US$52 million from 2001 to 2003.

Berlusconi was at “the top of the chain of command in the sector of television rights until 1998”, De Pasquale said at the time.

He had asked for a prison sentence of three years and four months for Mediaset president Fedele Confalonieri.

But Berlusconi’s close aide in his business dealings was acquitted on Friday.