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Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the son of former prime minister Silvio Berlusoni, was sentenced to 14 months in prison by an appeals court in Milan on Thursday over alleged tax evasion.
The ruling overturned an acquittal of the 46-year-old in 2014 that had been reached after a grueling three-year debate.
The company’s chairman Fedele Confalonieri was also sentenced and received the same 14-month sentence. Six people were confirmed acquitted, including Los Angeles-based producer Frank Agrama.
Berlusconi’s broadcast rights arm Mediatrade is accused of having purchased film and TV rights at inflated prices to pay lower taxes and then recouping fees through offshore bank accounts. Berlusconi and Confalonieri were sentenced on charges related to the 2007 fiscal year.
Mediaset released a statement expressing its “disbelief” over the verdict. It has adamantly denied any wrongdoing and believe the decision will be overturned in Italy’s highest appeals court, the last and final stop in the trial.
The timing for the announcement does not bode well for the company, whose stock has been on the rise recently amid rumors that French media giant Vivendi was in talks to purchase pay TV unit Mediaset Premium.
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