Silvio Berlusconi will always have the last laugh thank you very much…
There’s one detail mafia bosses and organize crime syndicates should pay more attention to: paying their taxes. When every other means fails, that’s what cops look into. And even if you are a law-abiding citizen, you can rest assured they will always find something wrong. Al Capone’s mass shootings, widespread corruption schemes, trafficking and smuggling business never left enough traces to lead to a conviction. Some might say governments tolerate that kind of behavior, as long as it can collect its due revenues. But never try to outsmart tax collecting agencies: that’s a step too far.
This is precisely what happened to Mr. Berlusconi, the notorious Italian ex-prime minister and media mogul, mostly known worldwide for his bunga bunga parties with underage prostitutes. Last week, Mr. Berlusconi was found guilty of a massive tax evasion scheme and convicted to four years of prison, ten million euros fine and a five year ban from public offices. We are not going to see him behind bars, though, thanks to a recent amnesty law that automatically reduced his conviction to one year. And due to the endless stream of ad personam statute of limitations laws he passed during his terms as prime minister, chances are that his appeal will lead to an expiration of the trial, thanks to the clever delaying tactics of his lawyers’ team.
The sheer amount of the tax evasion scheme Mr. Berlusconi managed while he was prime minister in 2002 and 2003 is just mind-boggling: 270 million euros ($350 million). According to the judges, Mr. Berlusconi bought American blockbuster movies at greatly inflated prices to broadcast them on his television networks, ascribing them as losses on the companies balance sheets and so avoiding paying taxes. But the scariest part of the story is another one. Thanks to this tax evasion scheme, Mr. Berlusconi stockpiled a constant cash flow of secret money through a complex architecture of off-shore holdings in fiscal paradises, that he used for corruption purposes and other illegal aims, according to the sentence.
The story of the last twenty years in Italian politics looks more like a modern remake of “The Untouchables” than a Western democracy. But its final epilogue is quickly turning into parody. Last week, just a few hours ahead of the conviction sentence, Mr. Berlusconi announced his retirement from active politics, almost two decades after his first electoral victory. But guess what? The day after the conviction, he changed his mind and declared it was time for him to run again to save the country from “judgeocracy.” His brand new plan is to sink the German-backed national unity government he is co-sponsoring, and call early elections in January.
Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian who recently jump started his own party, said that “the psycho-midget”, the nickname he coined to address Mr. Berlusconi, “resurrected even before the canonical three days break.” Mr. Berlusconi frequently compares himself to Jesus Christ, being a victim of judicial persecution. The comedian’s party is slated to dominate the political landscape in next year election, as Italians are abandoning traditional parties after an endless series of mafia and corruption scandals. Polls reveal that almost half of the population do not recognize themselves in any of the current parties, as the country has been stripped of its sovereignty and effectively run by the European Central Bank and Germany, through the unelected government of technocrat Mario Monti.
Mr. Berlusconi’s comeback is planned to avoid his most likely second conviction in the underage prostitution “bunga bunga” scandal, whose court sentence is due in January. According to Italian law, after the tax evasion conviction Mr. Berlusconi would be considered a recidive and unable to avoid doing prison time in case of a second conviction. But if he could get elected one more time, he’d be free from prosecutions for years to come, thanks to the immunity laws he crafted while in office.
above image found here