Italian businessman Follieri arrested

June 24, 2008 7:33:52 AM PDT
An Italian businessman who has been romantically linked to movie star Anne Hathaway has been arrested on wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering charges, Manhattan prosecutors said Tuesday. Raffaello Follieri, who was awaiting an appearance in Manhattan federal court, is accused of falsely telling an investor that the Vatican had appointed him to manage its financial affairs.

He allegedly claimed that, as a result of his Vatican connections, he and others could obtain properties of the Catholic church in the United States at a substantial discount to fair market value.

The name of his attorney could not immediately be determined. Hathaway's publicist, Stephen Huvane, has previous stressed that "The Devil Wears Prada" star is not part of any probes and is no longer a board member of the Follieri Foundation.

Earlier this month, the New York state attorney general's office said it was investigating the foundation operated by Follieri, 29. The charity's work includes vaccinating children in Third World countries.

The Follieri Foundation has not filed U.S. tax disclosure forms required from charities, according to a review of records by The Associated Press.