Anne Hathaway's ex arrested on fraud charges

Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:05pm EDT
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By Martha Graybow and Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Italian businessman famed as the long-time boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway was arrested on Tuesday on charges of operating a fraudulent real estate scheme that he claimed was linked to the Vatican, U.S. authorities said.

Raffaello Follieri, 29, a globe-trotting multimillionaire living in New York, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

He appeared in court on Tuesday and was ordered released on an extensive $21 million bail package that included confiscating his passport and restricting his travel to within Manhattan. He did not enter a plea.

Follieri is accused of operating a scheme between 2005 and 2007 in which he led investors to believe that he had close connections with the Vatican that enabled him to buy the Catholic Church's unwanted U.S. real estate properties at a discount, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Follieri and others used the investors' money for expensive clothes and restaurant meals, a $37,000-a-month Manhattan apartment, dog-walking services and other personal expenditures including medical expenses, exotic vacations and privately chartered flights for his girlfriend at the time, according to the complaint. Authorities did not identify the girlfriend.

For the past four years, Follieri had dated Hathaway, who starred in movies "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Get Smart," which was released in the United States last week. The couple were widely reported to have split recently.

A representative of Hathaway did not respond to calls and e-mail seeking comment.

In court, Follieri, dressed casually in jeans, a white shirt and blue pullover, reacted heatedly to U.S. prosecutor Reed Brodsky's arguments he was a flight risk with at least 10 million Euros (about $16 million) in one of several overseas bank accounts, as well as debts of more than $3 million, and had tested positive for opiates.   Continued...

<p>Raffaello Follieri and then girlfriend Anne Hathaway arrive at the 80th annual Academy Awards, the Oscars, in Hollywood February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>