Berlusconi's Fininvest to pay millions over corruption scandal
An appeals court in Milan has ordered Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's holding company Fininvest to pay 560 million euros to rival media group Compagnie Industriali Riunite, CIR, in a bribery case. The fine is to be paid immediately.
In October 2009, a Milan civil court had ruled that CIR was entitled to 750 million euros in compensation from Fininvest which wrested control of the leading Mondadori publishing house from CIR in 1990.
At the time, a judge ruled Berlusconi was "co-responsible" for the bribery of a judge, who decided in favour of Fininvest in the takeover battle. The judge and several lawyers were convicted of corruption in 2007.
CIR, whose honorary president is Berlusconi rival Carlo de Benedetti, controlled the newsweekly L'Espresso and the left-leaning daily newspaper La Repubblica, both avid chroniclers of the sex scandals that have been dogging the Italian premier.
The ruling represents a major setback for Berlusconi who on Tuesday withdrew a controversial law proposal to suspend all company fines above 10 million euros imposed by lower courts and over 20 million by appeals courts pending a final ruling by the country's highest court.
The proposal, included at the last minute in an austerity plan as it was to go before parliament for debate, was widely criticised as a bid to shield Fininvest from paying any fine the appeals judges may impose.
The premier is currently facing three trials, including one for allegedly paying to have sex with a Moroccan girl nicknamed "Ruby" when she was just 17 years old, and another for bribing a witness to lie about his business dealings.
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