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.
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.
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events