ROME (Reuters) – A man convicted of colluding with the Mafia, who was a close friend of Silvio Berlusconi, said on Thursday he was moved to tears by the late Italian prime minister’s decision to bequeath him 30 million euros ($32.7 million).
Marcello Dell’Utri spent more than five years in detention after being found guilty in 2014 of acting as a go-between for the Sicilian Mafia and the Milan business elite, including Berlusconi’s companies, from 1974 to 1992.
Dell’Utri, who comes from Sicily, always denied the charges.
He is the only beneficiary of Berlusconi’s will outside of the tycoon’s family. Berlusconi passed on his business empire to his five children and gave 100 million euros each to his partner Marta Fascina and brother Paolo.
“I have done nothing but cry since this morning,” Dell’Utri told the ANSA news agency, saying he did not expect Berlusconi’s bequest and adding it showed “the greatness of the man”.
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“He was like a brother to me. We had known each other for more than 60 years. He always helped me. Even at university, he would share his notes,” the former lawmaker and business executive told ANSA.
Dell’Utri, 81, ran Berlusconi’s advertising agency and helped him found his conservative Forza Italia party, for which he was elected several times in the Italian and European Parliament.
Berlusconi died last month aged 86.
In his will, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Berlusconi said the bequests for Dell’Utri, Fascina and his younger sibling were in recognition “of the love I had for them and the love they had for me.”
Leftist politician Luigi de Magistris, a former mayor of Naples and an ex-prosecutor, tweeted that the bequests to “Mafioso Dell’Utri” and 33-year-old Fascina were worthy of a “soap opera”.
(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Ros Russell)
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