Bribes are necessary for doing business globally: Berlusconi

Defending Finmeccanica's jailed ex-chief executive officer Guiseppe Orsi, Italy's three-time former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday that bribes are a necessary part of doing business globally. "Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it's useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations," he said in a televised interview.

"These are not crimes. We're talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why, because those are the rules in that country," the former premier was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted Berlusconi as saying that probes by Italian prosecutors into contracts Italian firms sign abroad were a form of "economic suicide".

"Everyone knows that as well as the tenders, agreements between governments are also involved," Berlusconi said. "The fact that there is the risk of magistrates intervening I consider to be economic suicide."

Terming Orsi's arrest "pure masochism", Berlusconi said it will hurt the prospects of other Italian businesses. "No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore... It's pure masochism," he said. Eni is Italian oil major, while Enel is a power producer. "These are absurd moralisms," he said. He added, "If you want to make moralisms like that, you can't be an entrepreneur on a global scale."

Orsi's lawyer Ennio Amodio termed the evidence against him "inconsistent", his arrest "unjustified".

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