Italy is a land of cliques. Relatively small groups of powerful people wield an enormous amount of influence over what goes on in this land. The tools of choice of these unscrupulous, but exceedingly well-organised and financed, groups are often corruption and intimidation.
First a little background on Italy’s two ‘Ps’ – the P2 and the P3, then a look at the latest p to spray Italy, the P4.
Conspiracy theorists will, no doubt, love to hear stories of Italy’s ‘parallel state’, one of which began with the mysterious and now defunct, theoretically, P2 group of Italian power mongers.
Allegedly, Italy’s serving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was a member of the shady Propaganda 2 or P2 masonic lodge which ran from 1945 to 1976, before it became illegal. However the P2 continued to operate behind the scenes in Italy until investigations brought it to an official end back in 1981.
More about the operations of this mysterious group, which included politicians, businessmen, journalists, and generals, came to light when the mani pulite political corruption scandals erupted in early to mid-1990s Italy.
The objective of the P2 secret association was to install its members in the highest institutional positions in the land, from which they could go about promoting and implementing a right-wing, authoritarian form of democracy, and could corrupt all and sundry too. The P2 lot were not keen on communists.
Anyway, although the P2 was erased, or at least that’s what Italians have been led to believe, other Italians must have liked the idea of being able to exert immense power, and make themselves much richer in the process. Indeed, around this time last year, rumours of the existence of a new P2 type organisation filled Italy’s newspapers. The new organisation was labelled the P3. I wrote about this in my Italy, One, P2, P3 post in July 2010.
The P3 investigations are still continuing, as far as I know, and some very senior members of the Berlusconi government are caught up in them. Some believed that Silvio Berlusconi may have been one of the top dogs in the P3 group, although his lawyers have denied this.
In much the same way as the P2 operated, the P3 used money to influence a number of Italy’s judges and politicians in order to obtain concessions and favourable judgements.
New P in Italy
Well, new year, new P, so to speak. Enter the P4, as it has been already been dubbed in a case which is dominating Italy’s newspapers.
Behind the P4, allegedly, is a shadowy figure who goes by the name of Luigi Bisignani. This gentleman, it seems, silently stalked Italy’s corridors of power a moving and a shaking, whilst greasing a good few palms in the process, by all accounts. The sheer amount of power Bisignani was able to wield is one of the most surprising aspects of this case.
As a matter of interest, Bisignani has been around for a long time and was mixed up in Italy’s national corruption scandals back in the 1990s.
This time round, allegedly, senior politicians in the Berlusconi government had been passing confidential parliamentary information concerning investigations and court cases on to Bisignani.
Not only this, certain appointments within the current Italian government were allegedly made as a consequence of Mr Bisignani’s recommendations. There’s more. Bisignani had been involved in ensuring; so go the stories in the press; that certain public work contracts were given to the right people. Fast cars as gifts, possibly stolen Rolex watches, and girls have been mentioned too. All very convoluted stuff.
High Tech Spy
Reports in Italy’s press stated that Bisignani had been using a Trojan type computer program to spy on the computer activity of those he was monitoring.
And Behind Bisignani is?
What is not yet clear, is who exactly Bisignani was working for. By the way, Bisignani is under house-arrest, but he appears to be chirping away like a cheerful chaffinch.
The singing go-between appears to have had access to substantial sums of cash, and had the power to intimidate, but it is not known where his funding came from, and why he was able to bend people to his will so easily.
The shadowy Bisignani very much kept himself to himself and few people knew who he was – to many he was probably just one of many suits mingling with Italy’s power-mongers. Wherever he went though, it seems Bisignani left a wake of corruption in his path.
A Cop Hides in Africa
A Carabinieri police officer who appears to have been at Bisignani’s beck and call has run off to Africa, where he is proving very hard to track down. It may be fair to assume that the policeman in question would not like to be found.
It’s not just regular policemen who were cooperating with the clique-master. It is emerging that Italian secret service operatives were doing his bidding. The network was vast.
All The Way to the Top, Almost
The names of other top level politicians, including one who is extremely close to Silvio Berlusconi – Gianni Letta, have come up. Letta was one of the people who received some of the information he quietly procured, says Bisignani.
Some in Italy say they are surprised Letta’s name has cropped up, as they consider him to be one of Italy’s more honest politicians.
Naples’ Mayor Speaks Out
Meanwhile, Naples’ new mayor and former magistrate, Luigi de Magistris, has spoken out, saying that in his former career as a magistrate, he was promptly moved from one office to another after he’d carried out a search of Bisignani’s premises.
To de Magistris, the sudden transfer stank of an attempt to stifle investigations which were leading right to the top of Italy’s political castle.
What will happen next?
Well, if it is shown that Gianni Letta is mixed up in the P4 affair, this could be the final straw which breaks the back of the already battered Berlusconi government.
Many questions are still being asked to unravel the extent of the so-called P4 network.
Investigations into the P4 thing are, apparently, worrying Berlusconi – who never did manage to push his law restricting wiretaps through Italy’s parliament.
Corruption in Italy, the Stuff of Novels
Angela Montgomery, who spent a good few years in Italy wrote a novel on corruption in Italy called Romanzo: Love and Corruption Italian Style. I’ve read Angela’s book and would recommend others do too. Although the tale is, apparently, fictional, it provides a lot of insight into this insidious aspect of Italy’s underbelly. You can read about an interview with the author Angela Montgomery here: Romanzo – A Novel About Love and Corruption in Italy – it would make an interesting film.