No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes
Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’
The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’
By Sara Malm
Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.
The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.
Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.
Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.
The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.
‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.
‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’
The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.
Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.
‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.
‘It’s pure masochism.’
Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.
‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’
His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.
Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.
The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.
His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.
Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.
Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.
Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.