Italian media mogul and erstwhile Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was handed a four-year jail sentence by a Milan court today, although it’s unlikely he’ll serve the time. Berlusconi and other executives at his Italian media conglomerate Mediaset were alleged to have inflated prices paid for broadcast rights to U.S. movies and TV shows via offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest. The accused were then alleged to have skimmed off part of the money to create illegal slush funds. The deals in question were worth 470M euros and occurred between 1994 and 1999, according to Reuters. The judge gave the controversial mogul a slightly longer sentence than the 3 years and 8 months prosecutors were seeking and also levied a fine of $12.96M. Berlusconi is expected to appeal the verdict in a case that began more than six years ago. He has two appeals available to him before the sentence is set in stone and won’t serve any jail time unless the last appeal fails. Berlusconi has been in court before over his business dealings, but he’s always been cleared or seen the statute of limitations expire. The statute in this case runs out in 2013, according to The Financial Times, and any appeals could take several years. Shares in Mediaset were down 3% after the ruling.
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