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Top Fininvest exec linked to Italo kickback scandal

Fedele Confalonieri, the chief administrator of Fininvest and Silvio Berlusconi’s right-hand man, reportedly is among the country’s top businessmen being investigated by Milanese magistrates in connection with the illegal party financing probe known as “Operation Clean Hands,” said wire reports here June 22 .

A Fininvest spokesman in Milan said Confalonieri has not received official notification that he’s under investigation and stressed that the source of reports was unconfirmed leaks from the Milan public prosecutor’s office.

Fininvest has remained largely untouched by the investigation, which has implicated top management in such pillars of the Italian industrial establishment as Fiat and Olivetti. More than 800 people have been placed under official investigation in the yearlong scandal, resulting in 111 indictments.

Late last week a top Fininvest aide, Aldo Brancher, was placed under cautionary arrest in Milan. He was accused of paying $ 200,000 in kickbacks to the Ministry of Health in return for receiving a large ministry contract for public service messages.

Brancher was an aide to Confalonieri, but Brancher’s lawyers maintain that the payment was made by his private advertising agency and that Fininvest was not involved in the transaction.