It is no secret that one of the main reasons why Italy's former PM, and resurgent soon to be member of government, Silvio Berlusconi, is so adamant to be in parliament, is simply to obtain the immunity he would need to stay out of prison as a result of countless lawsuits which he has valiantly fought, and lost. As of this morning, a rather convenient time for sure just as Italy is preparing to create a coalition government, Silvio has one more lawsuit he will need to appeal, and evade in Parliament, following news that he was convicted in a 2006 wiretapping scandal, and will have to serve a one year prison sentence. Will he serve even one day? Of course not - the appeals process alone will take at least several years, and when that runs out, well, the 76 year old Silvio is a billionaire, and will have ample opportunity to spend his money to buy himself enough freedom to last him until the end of his life.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was convicted in a wiretapping case related to the 2006 battle for control of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro SpA, the first of three corruption rulings he faces this month.
The verdict, televised from Milan today, carries a one-year prison sentence. Piero Longo, an Italian senator and one of Berlusconi’s lawyers, had no immediate comment when contacted by phone. Berlusconi can appeal the verdict.
The spate of corruption rulings threatens to derail the career of the three-time prime minister, who has dominated Italian politics for two decades. This month a Milan court is set to rule on charges he engaged a minor in prostitution, while another appeals tribunal will decide whether to uphold a four- year sentence for tax fraud. Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing in all the cases.
The verdicts come at a time when Berlusconi is set to play a key role in trying to end a political impasse in Italy after inconclusive elections last month produced a hung parliament. President Giorgio Napolitano will begin consultations with Berlusconi and other political leaders aimed at finding a way out of the logjam around March 18, just when the prostitution verdict is due.
In the US wiretapping takes down presidents; in Italy it leads to Bunga Bunga:
In the Unipol case, Milan prosecutors accused Berlusconi of allegedly leaking transcripts of wiretapped phone calls related to a bank takeover fight to Il Giornale, a Milan newspaper owned by his brother Paolo, to discredit a political rival, according to a September 2011 statement by prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati. Paolo Berlusconi was sentenced to two years and three months, Italian newswire Ansa said.
When Berlusconi was ordered to stand trial in February 2012, his lawyer Niccolo Ghedini described the accusations as “not credible.”
The wiretaps were part of a separate probe in 2005 into whether local bankers broke securities laws in trying to block foreign bids for Italian banks. The recordings, ordered by Milan prosecutors, snared politicians on both sides of the aisle and led to the resignation of two of Italy’s top bankers and Bank of Italy Governor Antonio Fazio.
The transcripts refer to calls between Piero Fassino, who formerly headed the Democrats of the Left party, and a banker seeking support for a takeover bid for BNL in 2006. Fassino was recorded during a takeover fight for the bank between Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) and Italy’s Compagnia Assicuratrice Unipol SpA.
In other words, just when Italy was becoming a boring Goldman fiefdom under the Monti tentacles, things are finally looking up if only in terms of entertainment value.