Italy’s ex-foreign minister Fini convicted over Monte Carlo apartment sale

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 5:30 AM

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian court sentenced former foreign minister Gianfranco Fini to two years and eight months in jail after he was convicted for his role in the sale of a Monte Carlo apartment by his political party.

Elisabetta Tulliani, Fini’s partner, was handed a five-year sentence by the court in Rome, while her brother Giancarlo Tulliani got six years and their father Sergio Tulliani five years. Fini was in court to hear the verdict.

The prosecution had accused Fini, former leader of the right-wing National Alliance (AN), and the other defendants of money laundering. In comments after the verdict, Fini said he had been cleared of the main charge but was still convicted for authorising the deal, which he denies doing.

“After so much talk, so many arguments and accusations, so much political condemnation, what am I being found responsible for?,” Fini, 72, told reporters.

“For having authorised the sale. It’s not really clear to me what the crime is in that.”

Fini, who was a key player in Italian politics in the 1990s and 2000s, and all the defendants are expected to appeal the ruling and will not serve jail time until appeals proceedings are exhausted.

Fini led the far-right Italian Social Movement (MSI) into government in 1994 as part of a coalition headed by Silvio Berlusconi. He later turned the MSI into the more mainstream AN and served as foreign minister and head of the lower house of parliament.

Italy’s current prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, rose up through the ranks of the MSI and AN under Fini’s leadership. Her party, called Brothers of Italy, traces its roots to both parties.

Now aged 72, Fini is no longer in frontline politics. The case that led to his conviction revolved around an apartment that was bequeathed to AN in 1999 by an aristocratic party supporter.

Prosecutors alleged it was bought via shell companies by Giancarlo Tulliani, with his sister’s complicity, using illicit offshore funds from an associate who ran a slot machine business.

According to investigators, Giancarlo Tulliani, who now lives in Dubai, bought the property for around 300,000 euros ($320,000) in 2008 and made more than one million euros in profit when he resold it in 2015.

Elisabetta Tulliani defended Fini during the court proceedings, arguing that the politician was unaware that her family was behind the purchase of the party-owned apartment.

($1 = 0.9367 euros)

(Reporting by Marco Carta and Keith Weir, editing by Alvise Armellini and Ros Russell)