A government probe has cleared British Culture Minister Tessa Jowell of breaching the cabinet minister’s code of conduct for not disclosing details of her tax lawyer husband’s financial dealings with Italian media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Italian prosecutors are examining claims that David Mills, Jowell’s husband, accepted $600,000 from Berlusconi in return for helpful testimony in a corruption probe against him in 1997 concerning TV rights deals.
Mills also was allegedly engaged by Berlusconi family holding company Fininvest to set up offshore companies, including All Iberian, into which Berlusconi is said to have transferred illegal funds from 1991-95.
Italo authorities are presently mulling whether to indict Berlusconi on these charges.
Jowell and Mills deny wrong-doing.
Under the ministerial code, ministers or their families should notify the cabinet secretary of gifts that might place them under an obligation to return the favor. But Jowell has survived the investigation after cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell said he was satisfied that Jowell would have notified him of the payment had she been told of it at the time by her husband.
“By the time I became aware of it, (Mills) had already agreed with the Inland Revenue that it should be classified as earnings on which tax was paid,” Jowell said.