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Italy prosecutors charge ex-PM Berlusconi with tax fraud

[JURIST] A Milan prosecutor charged former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with false accounting on Monday, alleging that his broadcasting company, Mediaset, [corporate website, in Italian] incorrectly reported its costs in purchasing television rights to US films in a ploy to lower taxes in 2000. Berlusconi's lawyer has said his client is innocent because he was not involved with the company during that time. The charges, filed just days before the statute of limitations was set to expire on October 20, will next be considered in court on November 19.

Berlusconi, a media mogul and Italy's richest man, has faced trial on at least six occasions involving charges of false accounting, tax fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, and giving false testimony [JURIST reports] connected to Mediaset. Charges against him, however, have been frequently thrown out because the statute of limitations has expired. In a separate case, Berlusconi was acquitted [JURIST report] earlier this year on charges that he bribed judges to prevent the sale of food company SME to rivals in 1985. BBC News has more.

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