Mediaset mogul facing 44-month sentence in fraud case

ROME

An Italian prosecutor on Monday asked a Milan court to sentence Silvio Berlusconi to 44 months in jail on fraud charges connected to multimillion-dollar Hollywood deals inked by his Mediaset TV empire.

Prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale also asked that Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri be sentenced to 40 months jail in the case. A ruling is not expected until after summer.

The trial stems from a reported €470 million ($678 million) in movie rights purchased by Mediaset through offshore companies during the 1990s to allegedly evade taxes and create a slush fund.

Berlusconi and Confalonieri have denied the charges.

De Pasquale claimed in court that he had unquestionable proof of Berlusconi’s involvement in a slew of sales at inflated prices from studios including Paramount and Fox as well as other commercial transactions involving some 3,000 titles. The prosecutor added that auditor KPMG has acted as financial consultant on the matter to the Milan court.

Berlusconi, who stepped down as prime minister in November, is also on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute, a charge he denies.

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