Silvio probe deepens

Media mogul could face jail time, fines

MILAN — A judicial inquiry into financial corruption charges against media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has taken a more serious turn.

The investigation is being carried out by Milanese magistrates in Rome and aims to demonstrate that Berlusconi, through his top aide and former defense minister Cesare Previti, paid billions of lire to Rome judges to obtain favorable rulings in trials affecting the tycoon’s businesses.

An inquiry was launched last year to look into allegations of indirect corruption on the part of Berlusconi. But now the Milan magistrates have extended their charges, believing that Berlusconi played an active role in bribing the Rome judges in two specific cases: the acquisitions of publishing house Mondadori and of grocery chain Sme.

Both companies were acquired by Berlusconi after a Rome court ruled that a previous sale of the two companies to Carlo de Benedetti — one of Berlusconi’s archrivals — was illegal.

If the allegations are proven true, Berlusconi could face jail time and fines.