Italian linked to Panama bribery cases fined $30 million

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VALTER LAVÍTOLA, the smooth talking Italian play boy and publisher who endeared himself to leading figures in the Martinelli administration as he acted as a link man between Panama’s rulers and Italian companies alleged to have paid millions of dollars in bribes has added another sentence to his crime sheet.
Meanwhile his jail sentences continue to mount and cases involving Panama are still before Italian courts.
Lavitola and his former partner Sergio De Gregorio were fined $30 million by the Court of Auditors for tax evasion in their operation of the newspaper L’avanti report Italian publications and La Prensa.
The court ruled that there was the deliberate intention to commit tax fraud.
In its 18-page judgment, the court said that Lavitola and De Gregorio consciously falsified balance sheets through proxies, non-existent operations in the company and a completely false billing system.
“Circumstances and documents have shown falsification of accounting scripture, of the costs of the production and activity of data dissemination and the sale of newspapers, which put into serious doubt the veracity of the corporate structure of the company,” the court ruled.
“In particular, false invoices in fictitious operations have emerged that led to a request for public funds and also for tax evasión,” it continued.
Lavitola was the manager of the publishing company from March 1997 to September 2011.
On Nov. 9, 2012, Lavitola agreed to a sentence of 3 years and 8 months in prison for fraud and embezzlement of public funds. The latest judgement is an extension of that case.
Last July. Italian authorities confiscated property of Lavitola worth more than $4 million.
The Italian businessman has also been tied to investigations into corruption allegations involving the government of former President Ricardo Martinelli and Italian contractors.
Dec. 11, Lavitola was sentenced to three years in prison for the attempted extortion to the company Impregilo on behalf of Martinelli. This was the first conviction in a case linked to Panama, but not the last, as he is facing a number of other charges. He is expected to agree to an 11-month sentence in the coming days in yet another corruption case, this one involving a pediatric hospital in Veraguas,Panama.
 

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