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Berlusconi Accepts EU Arrest Warrant Despite Tax Evasion Fears

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

13 December 2001


It was revealed on Tuesday that the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has bowed to international pressure over the introduction of a pan-European arrest warrant, much to the relief of the Belgian Prime Minister and current holder of the union's rotating presidency, Guy Verhofstadt.

'I'm very pleased we've found a solution on this very important point,' he admitted. The EU-wide warrant will cover 32 crimes including terrorism, forgery, money laundering, cyber crime, racism and hijacking, and when adopted, will put an end to the costly and often lengthy process of extradition.

Initially, Italy refused to agree to the new legislation, which had been agreed by all 14 of the other EU member countries, demanding that fraud and corruption be removed from the list of crimes over claims that the warrant could be used to meddle in domestic affairs. However, following accusations from some uncharitable souls that the Prime Minister (who is notoriously no stranger to self-interest) wanted these provisions removed to protect his Finivest corporation, which is currently under investigation for tax evasion in Spain, Mr Berlusconi stepped down and agreed to accept the list in its entirety.

Speaking just days before the EU's end of year summit, which is to be held here in Brussels, Mr Berlusconi was somewhat evasive, describing the potentially disastrous split in the European Union as 'a misunderstanding'.


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