Italy: Berlusconi tax fraud conviction upheld

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Italy: Berlusconi tax fraud conviction upheld

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An appeals court in Milan has upheld the tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence against former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The case, which involves Berlusconi’s television company, could see him barred from public office for five years.

He is unlikely to serve jail time, but the verdict keeps the judicial heat on the conservative Italian leader.

“It’s a very bad judgement. We were convinced that this would be the decision of the Court of Appeal,” said Niccolo Ghedini, Berlusconi’s lawyer.

“We will now appeal to the Supreme Court.”

A court convicted the 76-year-old in October on the grounds that he bought US film and television rights at inflated prices, allowing his company – Mediaset – to fraudulently lower its tax bill.

Berlusconi has repeatedly denied the charges, saying he never took part in any contracts negotiating the company’s television rights.

In other trials in the past, Berlusconi has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.