Rome: Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi orchestrated a massive tax fraud scheme and showed "particular intensity of misconduct in his persistence in it", a Milan court has ruled.
"The public role played by the defendant, not only as one of Italy`s leading businessmen, but above all as a politician, worsens our assessment of his behaviour," the court said Tuesday.
The court was explaining the reasons for its decision earlier this month to ban the billionaire media tycoon from public office for two years after the Supreme Court upheld a tax-fraud conviction against him.
The case involved international film rights deals made by Berlusconi`s Mediaset broadcasting empire.
"The objective gravity of the offence owes to the complexity of the system devised also in order to more easily conceal the (tax) evasion, a global system involving various actors, shell companies owned by Berlusconi or his media company Fininvest," the court said.
Italy`s Supreme Court of Cassation Aug 1 upheld a four-year prison sentence against the 77-year-old three-time prime minister which was cut to one year under the terms of an amnesty.
Due to his age, he will be spared jail time and has requested to serve the one-year sentence performing community service rather than under house arrest.
The Supreme Court ordered that a five-year ban from political office confirmed by a lower court be reviewed by the Milan court.
Berlusconi is facing expulsion from Italy`s Senate, the upper house of parliament, following his binding conviction for tax fraud in August, adding to his legal and political woes.
A deepening rift between loyalists and rebels who back Interior Minister Angelino Alfano could split his centre-right party, threatening his two-decade-long dominance of Italian politics.
Berlusconi is also fighting separate cases that include corruption and paying for sex with a minor. He denies all charges.