ROME – A Milan prosecutor has requested a three year and two months jail sentence for Mediaset Vice Chairman Pier Silvio Berlusconi (pictured), who is Silvio Berlusconi’s son, in a long-gestating tax fraud case pertaining to the top commercial Italian broadcaster’s Mediatrade rights arm.
The prosecutor has also requested a three-year and four-month jail sentence for Mediaset Chairman Fedele Confalonieri. Both are charged with buying film and television rights from Hollywood studios, including Paramount and Fox, through offshore companies at inflated prices to allegedly evade taxes and create a slush fund.
In March last year, Italy’s highest appeals court acquitted Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister who controls Mediaset, of tax fraud charges in connection with this same case. Berlusconi has however been convicted in a separate but closely related case pertained to price-inflating practices concerning TV and film rights’ purchases.
Pier Silvio Berlusconi and Confalonieri both maintain their innocence. Their lawyers and Mediaset had no comment on Thursday.
Mediaset’s latest legal woes do not seem to be worrying investors. On Thursday Mediaset shares rose 3 percent on rumours that Al Jazeera and France’s Vivendi could be taking a stake in a possible spin-off of Mediaset’s Mediaset Premium pay-TV unit.
The next hearing in the Mediatrade case will be in June, when defence lawyers will take the floor before a judge rules.