Fraud charges relate to bankruptcy of Rizzoli Audiovisivi

ROME — Prominent Italian film and TV producer Angelo Rizzoli Jr. was arrested in Rome Thursday on charges of fraud related to the bankruptcy of his Rizzoli Audiovisivi company known internationally for high-profile miniseries, including “Ferrari,” and locally for a slew of skeins aired by both Mediaset and RAI.

Rizzoli Jr., whose grandfather Angelo Rizzoli produced Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” is accused of setting up several dummy companies and cooking the books to make these satellite shingles go bankrupt in order to avoid creditors claiming coin from his main outfit, renamed Tevere Audiovisivi. Tevere remained active thanks to siphoned-off funds, prosecutors claim.

Agents of Italy’s so-called Fiscal Police have placed Rizzoli Jr. in preventive custody and confiscated assets, including his 21-room Rome villa and a Venetian palazzo, estimated to be worth an estimated $9.3 million in total. Rome prosecutors charge Rizzoli with insolvency amounting to $40 million.

Rizzoli Jr., 69, on several past occasions has claimed his innocence in this ongoing case. On Thursday he could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rizzoli’s wife Melania De Nichelo, a member of parliament who belongs to Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative PDL force, is now also reportedly under investigation in the probe.

Rizzoli’s arrest was immediately blasted by PDL pol Stefania Prestigiacomo, who claimed he was put behind bars by leftist magistrates “acting like clockwork” for political reasons in the leadup to upcoming Italo elections on Feb. 24 and 25 since Rizzoli is a Berlusconi sympathizer.

Rizzoli Jr., whose family lost the Rizzoli publishing empire in the 1980s, has since been active in production, segueing from films including Gianni Amelio’s 1992 “Stolen Children,” among other titles, into TV. Rizzoli’s most recent project is a remake of Roberto Rossellini classic “General della Rovere” adapted as a 2011 event miniseries for RAI.

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