Friday, September 21, 2012

Corruption scandal in Lazio: former councillor under investigation for embezzlement

The latest scandal in Italy brings us to Rome, and involves the whole region Lazio. Main characters of the scandal: Governor Renata Polverini and former regional councillor Franco Fiorito, both from “People of Freedom” (Berlusconi’s party).

Picture: Franco Fiorito and Renata Polverini

Franco Fiorito is under investigation for inappropriate use and embezzlement of electoral funds. As party councillor, he had easy access to party accounts, and he abused his power. The money, according to Fiorito himself, was used to pay for cars, parties and various expenses refunds (included gasoil and cash withdrawals) for several party members. Although admitting using money to pay various colleagues, Fiorito denies having taken any himself. From 2010 up until now, the Lazio region spent almost 6 million euro (all coming from the taxpayers, worth noticing).
The role played by Governor Renata Polverini is still unclear. She claims she had no idea how the party money was spent, but that’s really hard to believe. She apologised, and she announced a spending review and a cuts plan (which were approved today) to redeem the image of the administration.
Yet, she hasn’t resigned; she actually stated that she wants to go on. Berlusconi backed her decision not to resign.
The case is quite similar to a corruption case in Lombardia, involving again the region Governor Roberto Formigoni. He is under investigation for basically the same charges, and he hasn’t resigned yet. Probably he never will.
That’s an Italian classic: it doesn’t matter what you have done or what you are accused of, you just won’t resign.
It’s hilarious to see that, here in the UK, they want Minister Andrew Mitchell to resign only because of his outburst at a police officer.
In Italy there was a moment of panic when it seemed that Renata Polverini was actually going to resign. It would create an extremely dangerous precedent.
To quote Hacker, from my beloved sit-com “Yes Minister”:  “If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time”.  
God forbid that happens in Italy.