Berlusconi accused of paying £1.2m for showgirl's silence over prostitutes

Sabina Began Silvio Berlusconi

Italian prosecutors are stepping up their investigations into allegations that Silvio Berlusconi bribed a showgirl to keep quiet about the procurement of prostitutes for his parties, as the former prime minister faces the fresh humiliation of being kicked out of parliament.

Mr Berlusconi allegedly paid 1.5 million euros (£1.26 million) to Sabina Began, a former model who was nicknamed “the Queen Bee” of his female entourage, in return for her silence.
Miss Began is being investigated for allegedly recruiting call-girls to parties held by Mr Berlusconi at Palazzo Grazioli, his grand residence in Rome, in the months after he announced that he was divorcing his second wife, Veronica Lario.
The German-born former actress, who has the initials S.B for Silvio Berlusconi tattooed on her ankle and has in the past declared she was in love with him, reportedly used 600,000 euros of the money to buy an apartment in Rome.
She has denied recruiting prostitutes and says the money was just a gift.
The billionaire tycoon made his first payment to her in August 2011, arranging for 360,000 euros to be deposited in her account, according to bank records obtained by the Italian press. 

In October that year he paid her another 1,075,000 euros, and in the following month the sum of 35,000 euros.
The last payment, another 35,000 euros, was made in November 2012.
Prosecutors are also probing suspicions that Mr Berlusconi paid 500,000 euros to Gianpaolo Tarantini, a businessman from Bari in southern Italy, to lie about providing him with prostitutes.
In exchange for the cash, Mr Tarantini, who sold prosthetic limbs before striking up a friendship with the then prime minister, was supposed to say that the women he sent to the parties in Rome were simply friends, rather than paid escorts.
In a phone conversation intercepted by prosecutors in 2011, Mr Berlusconi discussed the supply of women for a party with Mr Tarantini, telling him: "Listen Gianpaolo, we need at most two each. Then we can trade. After all, the pussy needs to go around."
The investigation is just one of many threats faced by Mr Berlusconi in a nightmarish few weeks that is likely to finally signal the end of his 20 years at the forefront of Italian politics.
He was humiliated in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, on Wednesday when a revolt by his own party forced him into a last-minute U-turn in which he supported the coalition government in a confidence vote, despite threatening for weeks to bring it down.
A special Senate committee is due to meet today/on Friday and will almost certainly recommend stripping him of his Senate seat – the consequence of a conviction for tax fraud that he received in August.
The motion will be put to a vote to the whole Senate within two weeks and is likely to be passed, marking the end of his parliamentary career.
He then faces the prospect of having to spend the next 12 months either under house arrest or engaged in community service.
In yet another legal imbroglio, prosecutors in Naples are planning to bring charges against Mr Berlusconi for allegedly paying a three million euro bribe to a Left-wing senator, Sergio De Gregorio, in return for him defecting to the media tycoon’s PDL party.