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Italy’s Cooperative Corruption Scandal

After the Milan Expo 2015, Venice MOSE, Rome mafia, and Incalza affairs, at the center of the latest corruption scandal to break the surface in Italy are the nation’s cooperatives.

It all started after arrests took place in connection with a probe into the activity of Modena area cooperative, Cpl Concordia, a colossus which has ties to the scenic Italian island of Ischia. The investigations have opened a veritable can of worms and suggests that Italy’s coops are rather more cooperative than they should be.

What is emerging is scenario which suggests that Italy’s cooperatives have allegedly been, and for many years, paying off Italy’s ethically challenged politicians on all sides of the political spectrum in return for the assignment of lucrative public works and services contracts. Note that it is rather hard to tell the difference between Italy’s cooperatives and normal for-profit business operations, against whom the coops compete for business.

While investigations are very much ongoing, the names of certain illustrious Italian politicians, such as left leaning former prime minister of Italy, Massimo D’Alema, and even that of current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have been linked to “cooperative funding”.

Neither Mr D’Alema nor Mr Renzi are under investigation although suspect purchases of wine and autobiographies from companies linked to Mr D’Alema suggest this particular gentleman may end up in the mire.

D’Alema has reacted indignantly to the insinuation that he’s been involved in skullduggery and has called for better treatment of those linked to scandals but not actually under investigation. Italy’s press has been reporting Mr D’Alema’s name in connection with the cooperative corruption scandal and this, if nothing else, has called the former Italian prime minister’s reputation into question.

Politicians on all sides, including the nation’s current prime minister Mr Renzi, have called for legislation to curb police wiretapping activities, the transcripts of which tend to end up in Italy’s press – unless, that is, you happen to be the nation’s president. Former president of Italy Giorgio Napolitano had a certain wiretap buried for reasons that are not entirely clear.

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During the course of coop corruption investigations, perhaps someone will discover just how Mr D’Alema was able to afford the yacht he once co-owned and where his wife found to funds to set up a winery. Both the yacht and winery may have been funded legitimately though the ethically challenged nature of many of the players of the political game in Italy suggests otherwise. Mr D’Alema also runs a foundation into which cash can be paid and then remains virtually untraceable.

Italy’s foundations make ideal repositories for ill gotten gains as indeed the ethically challenged politicians who passed laws to allow them to be set up probably well knew. Sorry, that was cynical, I know.

Potentially, the cooperative corruption scandal could become even bigger than that of the ‘clean hands’ and ‘bribesville’ scandals which rocked the ethically challenged world of Italian politics in the 1990s.

Neither the ‘clean hands’ nor the ‘bribesville’ affairs managed to remove the ethically challenged from Italian politics which explains why corruption remains such a problem for Italy and that’s not to mention the deterrent effect Italy’s reputation has on foreign investment.

Will Italy’s cooperative corruption scandal be allowed to fizzle out like the ‘clean hands’ and ‘bribesville’ scandals? Or will Italy, finally, roll up its sleeves and tackle the issue? Seeing as the nation is still very much run by ethically challenged, one expects that the cooperative affair will slowly be forgotten even if their may be a few token prosecutions which might or might not be ended by Italy’s time barring laws or else the culprits may end up making tea for the elderly like ethically, and morally, challenged gentleman who was once Italy’s prime minister.

We’ll see.

By the way, Italians appear to be tiring a little of all the corruption scandals and the popularity of the anti-corruption 5 Star Movement has recently increased.

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