Gang held Berlusconi's accountant for 11 hours


Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi last night found himself at the centre of widespread media speculation following a Milan police news conference yesterday which revealed that his personal accountant, Giuseppe Spinelli, had been kidnapped last month for 11 hours.

In what looks like an obvious extortion attempt on the former prime minister, a gang of six – three Italians and three Albanians – sequestered Mr Spinelli in his home in Monza on the night of October 15th.

The gang then offered to sell sensitive documents, relating to one of Mr Berlusconi’s legal cases and to various political opponents, for €35 million.

Having insisted that the accountant contact Mr Berlusconi by phone, they released Mr Spinelli early the next morning.

Following yesterday’s news conference, several aspects remain unclear. What happened in the Spinelli household for the 11 hours the accountant and his wife were held hostage? How come Mr Berlusconi’s lawyers waited for 36 hours before reporting the kidnapping to police? Did Mr Berlusconi himself intervene? Was that why he cancelled a meeting with prime minister Mario Monti?

Was an estimated €8 million found in the deposit safe of Francesco Leone, one of those arrested for the kidnapping, part of a pay-off made by Mr Berlusconi? Mr Spinelli has become a nationally known figure in the wake of the “Rubygate” trial in Milan in which Mr Berlusconi stands accused of “involvement in underage prostitution”. In court, it was revealed he was the man who made payments to the young women who attended Mr Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga, bunga” parties.