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ROME – The daughter of Italian billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has been questioned by Italian magistrates as part of an investigation into whether or not members of her Berlusconi family are guilty of paying as much as €40 million ($49 million) in bribes to cover up links between their media empire and organized crime.
Magistrates in Sicily said Thursday they started this week to question 45-year-old Marina Berlusconi, who is the chair of the Mondadori publishing company and chair of Fininvest, the holding company her father founded that includes the Mediaset television and film giant.
The elder Berlusconi, who has in recent weeks signaled intentions to return to politics and run for a new term as prime minister, was also asked to appear before magistrates to answer questions. But he declined, reportedly saying that as a member of parliament he had urgent matters of the state to attend to.
Niccolo Ghedini, the Berlusconi family attorney, issued a statement, said that Marina Berlusconi was not accused of any wrongdoing. “She spoke to magistrates as a victim, and as a person with specific knowledge of certain facts,” Ghedini said.
The questioning centers on charges that Marcello Dell’Utri, a senator from Silvio Berlusconi’s political party and a long-time Berlusconi family advisor, was paid as much as €40 million ($48 million) over a ten-year span not to reveal long-rumored connections between Berlusconi and the mob. Both Berlusconi and Dell’Utri deny the charges.
Dell’Utri — who is the father of Marco Dell’Utri, co-founder of Italy’s Moviemax distribution and production house — is appealing a conviction on charges that he had his own ties to organized crime families.
Silvio Berlusconi, 75, who was Italy’s prime minister until November 2011, when he resigned amid personal scandal and fears that Italy could fall victim to the European debt crisis, has recently been in the news on speculation he would seek to return to the prime minister’s office.
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