Friday, October 28, 2005

Jowell husband 'facing jail term'

Oct 28 2005

David Mills is the husband of UK cabinet minister (Culture Secretary) Tessa Jowell

Legal proceedings against David Mills on allegations of tax fraud and money laundering are to begin in Italy.

Company lawyer David Mills is alleged to have set up offshore firms that helped Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi's media company avoid tax liability on TV rights.

Besides Mr Mills and Berlusconi, 12 other people also face possible charges of money laundering and tax fraud.

The pre-trial hearing in Milan's central court will be heard in front of judge Fabio Paparella, who will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed.

The hearing follows a three-year investigation by Milan-based prosecutors Fabio De Pasquale and Alfredo Robledo.

If the case against him proceeds and he is found guilty Mr Mills could be sentenced to 12 years in jail.

He has been a close friend of Berlusconi for many years, and in the 1990s set up a network of offshore companies for him. It is alleged that through these companies, American TV rights were bought at inflated prices and more than £40 million in tax was evaded as a result.
Besides the current case, Mr Mills also faces a separate investigation into allegations that he gave false evidence when questioned by prosecutors.

The case centres on media tycoon Berlusconi's TV company Mediaset, and is the latest of a series of corruption trials he has faced. But despite numerous court cases, Berlusconi has never been formally convicted of anything.


Mr Berlusconi has been fighting legal battles in the courts in Milan for many years.
He has been on trial at least seven times on corruption charges relating to his business activities.
But he has never received a definitive guilty sentence and in most cases has been acquitted under the statute of limitations.

This latest case involves a television rights deal in America.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Berlusconi, some top executives in his media companies and the London lawyer acting for him, Mr Mills, were involved in fraud.

Mr Berlusconi ha asked for the proceedings to be transferred to another city, as he claims that more than 60 judges on the Milan circuit are shareholders in his media companies and therefore cannot be considered impartial.

Court papers have been filed by prosecutors alleging a lack of cooperation by the American judiciary.

Italian investigators say the American courts have failed to hand over key evidence as they are required to do under international law.



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