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Judge drops graft case against ex-Italian PM Berlusconi over Mediolanum stake

FILE PHOTO: Italian Member of the European Parliament Silvio Berlusconi attends the first plenary session of the newly elected European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian judge dropped a corruption case against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi linked to a stake held by his holding company Fininvest in asset manager Banca Mediolanum, Berlusconi’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

The judge said the investigation highlighted some “anomalies” but that the evidence gathered was not enough to proceed with the case, two legal sources told Reuters.

In 2014, Fininvest, which owns 30 percent of Mediolanum, was ordered by the Bank of Italy to sell just over 20 percent since Berlusconi was no longer deemed fit to own more than 10 percent of a financial company after being convicted of tax fraud.

Italy’s top administrative court ruled in 2016 in favour of a request by Fininvest to cancel the stake sale, but prosecutors alleged that the ruling was fixed.

That led to an investigation into alleged corruption against Berlusconi and three other people which the Rome judge has now decided to end at the request of the prosecutors involved in the probe.

Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini confirmed that the case had been dropped, declining to comment further.

A three time Italian prime minister, in 1994-95, 2001-06 and 2008-11, 82-year old Berlusconi is currently head of centre-right Forza Italia party.

Reporting by Domenico Lusi; Writing by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by John Stonestreet and John Stonestreet