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Italy’s Ethically Challenged Minister Goes

After much bleating, Italy’s infrastructure minister Maurizio Lupi eventually, and rather reluctantly, resigned.

Mr Lupi is embroiled in a massive corruption scandal though is not, yet, under investigation for alleged wrongdoing. Mr Incalza, his chum and the man at the center of a huge web of corruption surrounding the allocation of public works contracts, most of which involved sky high costs and lacked any real benefits to Italy, remains in prison, as does a businessman, also a friend of Mr Lupi, who was allegedly assigned lucrative, if largely useless, contracts. The value of the contracts has been put at a not insignificant €25 billion of which 1% was allegedly diverted into private bank accounts.

Whether or not former infrastructure minister Mr Lupi benefitted financially from pointing public works contracts towards his businessman friend is not clear. Investigators will be following the money to establish whether this is the case, one is certain.

Also suspected, though not yet proven, is that Mr Lupi and his parliamentarian colleagues had been tinkering with legislation to ensure they could help out their ‘friends’ and keep dreaming up worthless public works schemes.

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Examples of public works schemes of dubious value to Italy, either because they aren’t really necessary or have been poorly executed include the TAV rail line, Venice’s MOSE flood prevention system and the Milan Expo. Then there’s the Salerno-Reggio Calabria road, sections of which have collapsed, and the mysterious, expensive, and disastrous road to nowhere, the BremBiMi – it took 18 years to finish too!

Meanwhile, Italy’s south is still waiting for improvements to its infrastructure which, amongst other benefits, would help give tourism a boost.

Still, with Mr Lupi’s resignation, at least one of Italy’s ethically challenged political bigwigs has been more or less sidelined, but for Italy to gain credibility in the face of international investors, many more will need to go. Don’t go holding your breath though.

Alternatively, if you have the cash, you could simply buy control of Italian companies and move their know-how and operations to nations where politicians are less likely to request ‘gifts’. This does already seem to be happening.

Corruption is not good for the long term health of nations but try getting Italy’s politicians to understand this. Good luck!

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