Berlusconi has never stood trial for any of the accusations that he has mafia ties, but a party member was sentenced to jail time as a result.
A senator in Berlusconi’s party, Marcello Dell’Utri, was put on trial a decade ago based on accusations of using a Berlusconi-related advertising business to launder mafia money. A former mafia member who became a witness for the state said that Berlusconi used to “be in touch” with top mafia boss Stefano Bontade, BBC reports.
According to a timeline from British newspaper The Telegraph, mafia allegations against Berlusconi go back to the 1970s. Some claimed that the mafia invested heavily in Berlusconi’s early business ventures. In 1993, a mafia turncoat said that in 1992, the year before Berlusconi first became prime minister, he struck a deal with Cosa Nostra to provide favors – including support for the mafia's deadly bombings in Italy in 1993 – in exchange for the mafia's political backing. Berlusconi's spokesman denied the claims, saying that the mafia was smearing Berlusconi in revenge for his government's crackdown on crime.