Ex-Italo PM indicted on charges of tax evasion

Legal proceedings have been initiated against Silvio Berlusconi for alleged tax evasion and false accounting in Spain related to the ex-Italian prime minister’s former stake in Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

Judge Baltazar Garzon, an investigating magistrate at Spain Audiencia Nacional, which tries cases involving terrorism, drug and financial crimes, has indicted Berlusconi.

Spanish authorities lifted the media mogul’s immunity from prosecution in July following his defeat in Italy’s general election.

The charges against Berlusconi concern his involvement with Telecinco from 1990-93, when his TV company, Mediaset, held a 25% stake in the TV station.

Although Spanish antitrust legislation capped company stakes at 25%, Berlusconi has been accused of holding 52% of Telecinco stock by using associates who acted as fronts.

Garzon has battled for years to lift Berlusconi’s immunity to prosecution in Spain.

Berlusconi already faces a trial in Italy, set for November, on charges of fraudulent bookkeeping and other financial wrongdoing involving Hollywood rights deals and an alleged slush fund set up at Mediaset.

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