An Italian appeals court on Saturday ordered Fininvest [corporate website], a holding company owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official website, in Italian; JURIST news archive], to pay 560 million euros (USD 801 million) in damages and fees to Compagnie Industriali Riunite (CIR) Group [corporate website]. The ruling [ANSA report, in Italian] represents a reduction from the 750 million euro award originally imposed by the Court of Milan [official website, in Italian] in October 2009. The complaint stems from Fininvest's 1991 acquisition of Italian publishing company Mondadori [corporate website], during which Fininvest bribed a judge in exchange for favorable decisions. The judge and a Fininvest lawyer were convicted [AFP report] of criminal corruption charges in 2007. Fininvest announced its intention to appeal the ruling, though the fine is due immediately regardless of appellate status.
Berlusconi has been a defendant in nearly 50 cases, including ongoing cases involving tax fraud and fraud and embezzlement [JURIST reports]. He also faces trial for allegedly abusing the power of his office and soliciting an underage prostitute [JURIST report]. Both parties deny having a sexual relationship, and Berlusconi has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations groundless. In January, the Italian Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] held hearings and subsequently struck down [JURIST reports] portions of a law [materials, in Italian] backed by Berlusconi that would have granted public officials temporary immunity from charges while in office.