An Italian court has sentenced Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi (pictured) and chairman Fedele Confalonieri each to one year and two months in prison for tax fraud after overturning an earlier court decision that saw the pair acquitted on the same charges.
The Milan Court of Appeal acquitted US producer and Berlusconi associate Frank Agrama and six other defendants, but sentenced Berlusconi and Confalonieri in a partial reversal of the pair’s acquittal in 2014. In addition to the sentences, the pair were disqualified from holding corporate office and banned from contracting with Italian public bodies.
The case relates to the sale of content rights to Mediaset’s Mediatrade unit in 2007 at inflated prices in order to avoid paying taxes.
Mediaset issued a statement expressing “disbelief” at the overturning of the earlier verdict, which saw the pair vindicated at the end of a three-year judicial process.
The broadcaster said that the sale of the film rights in question were recorded in line with “rigorous observance” of the country’s tax laws and said that it was confident that the Italian Supreme Court will overturn the latest judgement.
Berlusconi’s lawyer, Filippo Dinacci, also questioned the verdict, pointing out that Agrama and others had been acquitted, and said he was confident the ruling would be overturned on appeal.
The Mediatrade case was responsible for ending the political career of Pier Silvio Berlusconi’s father Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, in 2013 when the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the latter’s conviction for tax fraud. The court ruled that Berlusconi had systematically acquired TV rights at inflated prices from foreign front companies in order to benefit from illicit tax arrangements.