Berlusconi firm to pay 560-million-euro fine

Last Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 23:09

Milan: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi`s
Fininvest company will pay a court-ordered fine of 560 million
euros (USD 793 million) to a rival media group but said on ThursSday
it will also make a second appeal against the ruling.

The damages were ordered in compensation for Fininvest
having wrested control of the leading Mondadori publishing
house from Compagnie Industriali Riunite (CIR) in 1990 after
it bribed a judge to approve a company takeover.

"Following the sentence by Milan`s appeal court on
July 9 concerning the Mondadori affair, Fininvest has decided
to pay the sum directly to CIR," the company said in a
statement.
"The payment, which will be made before July 26, by no
means implies the sentence has been accepted," it said, adding
that the company "will turn to the final court of appeal" to
challenge the order.

The Milan appeals court had reduced by a quarter the
original 750-million-euro (USD 1-billion) damages claim that a
civil court had ordered the holding company to pay in October
2009.

A judge ruled at the time that Berlusconi was
"co-responsible" for the bribery of the judge who ruled in
favour of Fininvest in the takeover battle.

That judge was convicted of corruption in 2007 and
sentenced to two years and nine months in prison. The
Fininvest lawyer who bribed him was given a sentence of one
year and six months.

CIR`s honorary president is Berlusconi rival Carlo de
Benedetti.

The group runs the weekly news magazine L`Espresso and
the left-leaning daily newspaper La Repubblica, avid
chroniclers of the premier`s legal woes and sex scandals.

The fine represents a major setback for Berlusconi.
Days before the court pronounced its verdict, he had
attempted to push through a controversial law proposal that
would have suspended such fines pending a final ruling by the
country`s highest court.

But the last-minute proposal, added to a wider package
of austerity measures to be debated by parliament, was widely
criticised as a bid to shield Fininvest and the premier was
forced to withdraw it.

Berlusconi cannot be prosecuted in the Mondadori case,
as the facts were legally prescribed in 2001, meaning the
period for legal action had expired.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 23:09

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