Former Italian PM Berlusconi acquitted in Unipol takeover case

MILAN Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:11pm EDT

Leader of Forza Italia party Silvio Berlusconi talks to reporters at the end of the consultations with Italian Prime Minister-designate Matteo Renzi (not seen) at the Parliament in Rome February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Leader of Forza Italia party Silvio Berlusconi talks to reporters at the end of the consultations with Italian Prime Minister-designate Matteo Renzi (not seen) at the Parliament in Rome February 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

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MILAN (Reuters) - An appeals court on Monday acquitted former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi due to the statute of limitations in a case related to a 2005 attempt by insurer Unipol to take over bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL).

In March 2013 Berlusconi was sentenced to one year in jail for allegedly leaking confidential information to a newspaper owned by his brother about an investigation into the takeover attempt.

Italian daily Il Giornale published details of a wire-tapped phone conversation about the BNL deal between former centre-left leader Piero Fassino and the former head of Unipol.

Milan's appeals court acquitted the Berlusconi brothers but upheld an 80,000 euro damages payment to Fassino.

The Berlusconi brothers deny any wrongdoing and their lawyers had requested an acquittal on merit.

BNL was later bought by France's BNP Paribas.

(Reporting by Manuela d'Alessandro; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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