Case centers on Hollywood deals

Los Angeles-based entrepreneur and producer Alfredo Cuomo was indicted Wednesday as the Milan trial that sees Silvio Berlusconi facing fraud charges in connection with Hollywood content deals done by his Mediaset TV empire resumed.

Cuomo, whose production credits include the 1978 “Dawn of the Dead” and, more recently, Stephen King adaptation “The Night Flier,” acted as a middleman between Mediaset and several U.S. studios for transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars between 1994 and 1999.

Cuomo, whose company is called Stardust Intl., is being charged with false bookkeeping and tax fraud. The case centers around two offshore outfits through which Mediaset holding company Fininvest bought rights to Hollywood movies and TV product at allegedly inflated prices in order to create a supposed slush fund for Berlusconi, who at the time had already gone into politics.

Cuomo could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Berlusconi, Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri, and British lawyer David Mills, who are the trial’s main defendants, have denied wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, late last week a Swiss court ruled that the Milan prosecutors will have access to Fininvest’s Swiss bank accounts, where some $120 million has been frozen since 2005 in connection with the case.

So far, Berlusconi has stood trial eight times in Italy and been cleared either on appeal or because the statute of limitations had expired.

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