Anne Hathaway's Ex Raffaello Follieri 'Happy' For Actress, Ready to 'Live My Life' After Prison

Recently released from prison, Raffaello Follieri says he's ready to move on.

June 26, 2012, 7:37 PM

ROME, Italy June 27, 2012— -- Raffaello Follieri, an Italian businessman who was convicted of defrauding investors out of millions of dollars, said he was "happy" for his ex-girlfriend Anne Hathaway's engagement to designer Adam Shulman.

"I want only the best for this person," Follieri said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. "She was very sweet to me. We had, I think, a very nice relationship. I don't have anything bad to say."

Follieri and Hathaway started dating when the actress was just 21 years old. She once told "Newsweek" that the two "worship each other." Follieri said he was "absolutely" in love with her and the couple often talked about getting married.

"We talked about that several times," he said. "I think when somebody spends four and a half years without another person means that -- it was something that was working for us… but life goes in different direction that we cannot control."

Their fairy tale romance came crashing down and Hathaway left Follieri before he was arrested in 2008. He later pled guilty to 14 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and wire fraud. After spending almost five years in a Pennsylvania prison, Follieri was deported back to Italy, where he said he is eager to move on.

"I'm not trying to clear my name," he said. "I'm just try to go on and live my life."

Prior to his arrest, the 33-year-old was living the glamorous lifestyle of a billionaire businessman. Using his personal charm, Follieri managed to dupe celebrities, politicians and even the Vatican into trusting him. After moving from Southern Italy to New York, Follieri connected real estate investors with the Catholic Church, which was looking to unload unwanted properties. And his business did in fact, buy properties from various diocese, some of which have been resold by investors at profit.

But according to government officials, Follieri lied to his investors by telling them he had a formal role at the Vatican and his company would have the right of first refusal on any church properties. When asked if he embellished his ties with the Vatican, Follieri would only say he claimed to have a business relationship with the church.

"I told investor that I had relation with the Vatican. Yes," Follieri said. "I had relation like anybody that as a private company. They want to go to the different dioceses in the United States and make an offer to buy real estate... Any other person into the United States can do that if want to go as investor and want to buy property from the different diocese around the United States. So that was my type of relation."

Follieri did have social ties with some of the most elite circles in New York business and politics. Follieri used those relationships to gain access to enormous sums of money, much of which he lavishly spent on himself and his superstar girlfriend. Follieri claims things got out of control as the money started pouring in.

"When you have 25 years old and you have a company growing very fast, you get carried away in situation," he said. "At the time, my life was pretty good. I had a girl that I love. My business was going well. So I didn't thought, at that point is when, I thought that was the American dream. But it was not so long later that everything fall apart."

The largest investor in Follieri's company was Ron Burkle, a billionaire and close friend of former President Bill Clinton. Burkle's Yucaipa company invested $105 million dollars in the Follieri Group to buy properties from the church. The partnership provided Follieri with a hefty bank account and a new social circle. Soon, he was spending $97,000 on a private plane to take him and Hathaway to the Dominican Republic, where they spent New Year's Eve partying with Clinton at Oscar de la Renta's house.

Follieri went to President Clinton's global initative conference and pledged to spend $1 million dollars on vaccinations for children. That was in addition to the $50 million he claimed his "Follieri Foundation" had promised to other causes.

Follieri said Hathaway had no knowledge of his business deals while they were dating.

"I don't think she knew anything because we didn't have a business conversation," he said. "I was discussing the business and what--in general, but not anything specific."

"I didn't have, believe me, any thought, that something would go wrong," he added.

But Follieri was paying the bills with investors' money. He spent $37,000 a month for a penthouse apartment in Trump Tower and $16,000 on a few nights at a luxury hotel in Rome. He even used investors' money to pay dog-walking charges for Esmeralda, the Labrador retriever he shared with Hathaway.

"When this was happening, for tell you true, I was not thinking about spending other people's money," Follieri said. "I had a good intention. I was not getting up in the money and think how I can spend other people money. It was not that."

Follieri said he hasn't spoken to Hathaway since he was arrested, but he only has "positive" memories of their relationship.

"One thing that being in custody teach me is that is not worth it to be bitter because if you are bitter you never really going to be free," he said.

Follieri said he too has found love again in an old friend he began dating while he was still in jail. His American dream may have landed him behind bars, but Follieri said he will be back in business soon, looking for new investment opportunities.

"You have two choice," he said. "One choice is to give up and be broken psychologically forever, or stay strong and overcome it. And I choose the second one."

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