London: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly spent GBP 240,000 on new cars as gifts for starlets in his inner circle.
The 13 vehicles included five Minis, four Mercedes Smart cars, a Land Rover and a Volkswagen Beetle, reports the Telegraph.
Details have emerged from evidence submitted by prosecutors in Milan after an investigation into an alleged prostitution ring surrounding the Berlusconi.
Some of the cars went to showgirls and alleged prostitutes who have been named in the investigation.
Prosecutors have amassed evidence from wire taps and bank accounts suggesting that the 74-year-old showered his female friends with jewellery and cash, as well as putting them up in rent-free flats, but this is the first time that evidence has emerged of women receiving cars as presents.
Money for the vehicles came directly from an account in Berlusconi's name or indirectly through his accountant, according to prosecutors.
The teenager, Karima El-Mahroug, who nicknamed herself Ruby the Heart Stealer, has told investigators that Berlusconi promised her an Audi R8 along with the bundles of cash and pieces of jewellery he gave her, but that the car never arrived.
First Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, 13:51