Silvio Berlusconi's Biography
Silvio Berlusconi was born in Milan in Italy on 29 September 1936, the son of a local bank official.
Before building up a huge property then media business and becoming Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi sold vacuum cleaners and sang in nightclubs and on cruise ships.
After graduating in law in 1961, he established Edilnord, a construction company, in 1962, and developed housing in Milan.
Many years later, he moved into the media and broke the monopoly of Italy's public broadcaster, RAI. His local cable television firm Telemilano expanded into Mediaset, which in turn became part of a giant Berlusconi company Fininvest, whose assets came to include publishing house Mondadori, newspaper Il Giornale, football team AC Milan and TV stations Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4.
In 1993, Mr Berlusconi founded his own political party, Forza Italia, and the following year became Italian prime minister, after forming a coalition with the right-wing National Alliance and Northern League.
However, the coalition broke down, and he lost the 1996 election, only to come back to power in 2001 - again in coalition.
Berlusconi lost the 2006 Italian general election, but was returned to power again in April 2008, with the People of Freedom party, incorporating Forza Italia and the National Alliance.
A controversial figure, Silvio Berlusconi has encountered a variety of allegations regarding sex and business scandals.
In 1990, Berlusconi married actress Veronica Lario. They already had three children, including one whilst he was still married to his first wife, Carla Dell'Oglio.
Veronica Lario began divorce proceedings against Silvio Berlusconi in May 2009. In December 2012, it was reported that Silvio Berlusconi had agreed to pay 36m euros a year in a divorce deal.
On 15 February 2011, examining judge Cristina Di Censo ordered Mr Berlusconi to stand trial on 6 April on charges of paying for sex with a belly dancer Ruby, also known as Karima El Mahroug, when she was 17.
The Guardian carried an interesting article about Silvio Berlsuconi, which revealed:
"He has created an underground mausoleum, using more than 100 tonnes of marble, in the grounds of his house outside Milan which even has niches for his key aides so they can continue to accompany him in the afterlife."
In October 2012, Silvio Berlusconi received a jail sentence after being found guilty of tax fraud.
However, because he was over 75, the four-year jail term was converted to a year of community service at a care home.
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