A Milan appeals court has ordered prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest to pay €560 million in damages to the rival media group Compagnie Industriali Riunite (“CIR”) in relation to a bribery case.
The damages are in connection to Fininvest’s takeover of the publisher Mondadori from CIR in 1991, where there was alleged to have been bribery of a judge who ruled in Mr. Berlusconi’s favour. It was recently discovered that a clause had been inserted in a package of budgetary adjustments that would have meant that Fininvest did not have to pay the compensation until it had exhausted the appeals process, which in Italy can take many years.
Previously, Mr. Berlusconi had been personally put on trial for bribery in connection to the case, but charges against him were dropped in 2001 as they were time barred. The Milan appeals court, giving its ruling at the time, is reported as accepting that Mr. Berlusconi was “jointly responsible” for the corruption.