The Immigration and Naturalization Service revoked the visa of MGM-Pathe Communications Co. owner Giancarlo Parretti on Friday for his failure to reveal a lengthy criminal record in Italy, threatening to deport Parretti if his most recent conviction is not overturned.
The nature of Parretti's visa has long been a source of speculation because of his known criminal record. The INS said Parretti did not contest assertions that he lied in Rome in 1982, when he obtained a visitor's visa of indefinite length for entry into the United States.
Henry Brattlie, INS deputy district director in Philadelphia, said Parretti had been arrested numerous times in his native Italy. Most important to the INS was a fraudulent bankruptcy case in Naples dating back to 1984, which resulted in a felony conviction and a 24-month prison sentence.
Parretti is appealing that conviction. Unless it is overturned, it is grounds to bar the mysterious Italian financier from the United States, Brattlie said.
"It's not a technical violation," Brattlie said. "To get back in, he will have to go to a consulate and convince the Department of State that he is admissible."
Parretti, who controls a host of foreign corporations, already spends much of his time outside the United States. He and his spokesman, Richard Kline, were on a plane to Los Angeles late Friday and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The INS gave Parretti a two-week grace period to remain in the United States and complete a trial in Wilmington, Del., where control of MGM is at stake. However, the trial is in recess until the week of Sept. 23.
"If he's still in this country after two weeks, he's subject to arrest," Brattlie said.
It was unclear Friday if Parretti could appeal to extend his stay in the United States.
Parretti came to American attention when his Pathe Communications Corp. purchased MGM/UA Communications Co. for $1.3 billion last year from Beverly Hills billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.
Since then, Credit Lyonnais, the French bank that loaned Parretti the money for the deal, has accused him of breaking numerous agreements and has taken away control of MGM.
Parretti is trying to regain his position as MGM chairman at the trial in Delaware, where the studio is incorporated.
He arrived at Wilmington by private jet from Geneva on Aug. 21, when the problems with the INS began. Parretti deferred his entry inspection until Friday in Philadelphia, where Brattlie found him inadmissible and canceled his visa.
MGM has been stung by a series of box-office busts, including "Life Stinks," "Delirious" and "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man." Its latest release, "Company Business," premiered Friday to biting reviews.