Fininvest, the holding company controlled by Italy's Berlusconi family, has been ordered to pay €750 million in damages to rival media company CIR over a disputed court case which took place 18 years ago.
Marina Berlusconi, head of Fininvest, announced they plan to appeal the court decision but had no further comment when www.campdenFB.com contacted the company. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (pictured), Marina's father, who headed the business at the time of the case, said: "I am literally shocked."
The judge who awarded the damages payment said Silvio Berlusconi was "co-responsible" with his company for the corruption in 1991.
Fininvest and CIR, controlled by Carlo De Benedetti, fought for control of publisher Arnoldo Mondadori in 1990. Originally it was granted to Benedetti, however a 1991 ruling overturned this and gave Fininvest control of the publisher.
It later emerged the judge had been bribed and both the judge and the Fininvest lawyer were convicted for corruption. Charges against Berlusconi were dropped in 2001 after the statute of limitations expired. Since then Berlusconi has passed a law that states the prime minister, and other top state officials, are immune from criminal prosecution.
The ruling could have implications beyond the compensation payment as the Constitutional Court are now debating the legality of the law that allows Berlusconi immunity.
Fininvest was founded by Berlusconi in the 1960s as real estate company but since the mid-1990s has focused more of its efforts on media and entertainment. Group assets include the broadcaster Mediaset SpA and the football team AC Milan. Fininvest is one of Italy's largest media and entertainment companies with 2008 revenues of €6 billion.
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