Babelgum founder jailed in Italy

Silvio Scaglia facing money-laundering charges

ROME -- Silvio Scaglia, the founder of online video broadcaster Babelgum, has been jailed in Italy on charges of being involved in a 2-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) money-laundering scheme, the Italian media reported Monday.

The charges are not related to the popular Babelgum project, which hosts hundreds of videos made by up-and-coming filmmakers and which is the host of the Babelgum Online Film Festival, where winners are ultimately selected by film director Spike Lee. Instead, they relate to Scaglia's tenure as chief executive office of Italian Internet Service Provider Fastweb.

Reports said that Scaglia's assets in Italy have been frozen as he awaits trial, but that Babelgum's activities -- which are based in the U.K. and the U.S. -- are unaffected.

"Babelgum's operations are completely separate from and not covered by the current investigation," the company said in a statement. "The company's functions and effectiveness have not been impacted in any way."

Scaglia reportedly sold 220 million euro ($300 million) in Fasteweb shares to get Babelgum off the ground in 2006. Since then, the company has become one of the most visible Internet broadcasters, and one of a small handful to invest in original content.

The company said that despite the latest developments its budget remains fully funded for the rest of 2010 and that it still expects to make major content announcements later in the year.

Scaglia, who remains a major investor in Babelgum, maintains his innocence.
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