Berlusconi faces more legal battles

Tycoon could get five and a half years, $7 mil fine

MILAN — New judicial troubles for Italy’s media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi have surfaced, with Milan’s public prosecutor Francesco Greco calling for a five and a half-year prison sentence and a fine of $7 million for suspected secret payments to political parties.

Connected to Craxi

These irregularities focus on payments Berlusconi allegedly made to former Socialist Party leader Bettino Craxi.

According to the magistrate, Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest made an $11 million payment in 1991 to Craxi that did not show up in its accounting records.

The payment was allegedly placed in an overseas account by a Panamanian company called All Iberian and linked to Fininvest.

4-year sentence sought

Four top Fininvest execs are also involved in this case, as well as Craxi, for whom the Milan magistrate has demanded a four year prison sentence. Craxi has evaded prosecution since 1994 and now lives in Tunisia.

The verdict is expected soon, but even if he’s convicted, Berlusconi will appeal.

In January, Milanese magistrates sentenced the TV tycoon to a 16-month imprisonment for false accounting related to the acquisition of film company Medusa. The 61 year old entrepreneur did not have to serve this first sentence because a recent Italian law suspends most prison terms under two years.