ROME - Italy's billionaire Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi enjoyed a 57 per cent surge in income to 23 million euros in 2008, according to tax returns made public Monday.
The tax returns published by parliament along with those of MPs and government members also spelled out details of Berlusconi's real estate holdings including a building under construction in the Caribbean island of Antigua.
The media tycoon and his family ranked 74th in the annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires published last week, dropping a few spots compared with a year earlier but with his net worth ballooning from 6.5 billion to 9.0 billion dollars (6.6 billion euros).
Once Italy's richest man, Berlusconi is now ranked third in Forbes' list behind Michele Ferrero, owner of confectioner Ferrero which invented Nutella, and Leonardo Delvecchio, founder of eyewear company Luxottica.
Born on September 29, 1936, to a middle-class family in the northern industrial hub of Milan, Berlusconi began building his vast fortune through a series of property developments.
Since bursting onto the political scene in 1993, Berlusconi has headed three centre-right governments.
Among the interests controlled by his holding company Fininvest are Mediaset, Italy's biggest private television group, the publishing house Mondadori and financial services group Mediolanum.
Mediaset also controls the top-flight football club AC Milan and the newspaper Il Giornale.
Berlusconi aside, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa earned the most in 2008 among government ministers, declaring 517,000 euros of income.
Among opposition leaders, former anti-corruption magistrate Antonio Di Pietro, head of the small Italy of Values party, had the best year in 2008, earning 193,000 euros, while Pierluigi Bersani, head of the centre-left Democratic Party declared income of 150,000 euros.
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