The OECD is pushing for Italy to clamp down on corruption. Partly at the behest of the OECD, the Monti government is beginning to take a cold hard look at ways to cut down on one of Italy’s oldest problems.
That Italy needs fresh anti-corruption legislation is indisputable. In the Boot at present, various little laws and limits mean convicting those accused of corruption is nigh on impossible. Even on the rare occasions when convictions do occur, the guilty parties receive no more than a slap on the wrist. This means they do around a year in an Italian clink, are released and return to their corrupt little ways.
OECD and Italy’s Courts Yell for Clamp Down
It is not only the OECD which wants Italy to sort out corruption, but also Italy’s courts which have continued to yell, unheeded, that the situation is worsening annually.
The huge corruption scandal in the early 1990s which rocked Italy to the core only shook up a few people for a very short time. While corruption may have taken a short break during ‘Bribesville‘, after investigations fizzled out, it was back to corruption as usual.
At the center of rumors and corruption scandals in Italy there more often than not seems to be a politician or quite a few politicians and party funding. Not only are Italy’s national political parties continually embroiled in corruption investigations, so are the country’s local politicians.
Dirty money seems to be used to fund Italy’s political parties, and quite often the dodgy cash comes straight out of public coffers. Take, by way of example, the curious case of the Margherita party.
The Dead Daisy
“Margherita”, if you did not know, is Italian for daisy and one left leaning alliance of politicians founded in 2002 went by the name of Margherita.
Owing to one of the seemingly endless rejiggings of Italy’s political scene, the Margherita alliance ceased to exist in 2007. Funds for the defunct Margherita party somehow remained under control of those who were once associated with the flowery party. One such ex-Margherita politician, party treasurer, Luigi Lusi, has admitted filching some €20 million of party funds and using it to go on a spending spree which included a few luxury villas and the odd trip on the Orient Express, amongst other things. There are rumors that Lusi frittered away as much as €30 million, but the whispers have yet to be confirmed.
Stop reading, start speaking
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Lusi, in the meantime, has been threatening to open a can of worms with regard to the finances of the defunct Daisy party. It is looking as if the former leader of the Daisy party, one Francesco Rutelli may be dragged into the mire – although he has vehemently denied any wrong doing.
From the Daisy to the Foundation
However, the Honorable Mr Rutelli does not seem to be able to explain why the relatively minor sum of around €800,000 quietly found its way out of Daisy coffers and into his latest baby the Centro per il futuro sostenibile – Center for a sustainable future – foundation. Italy’s Espresso magazine which ran the scoop on the story also has bank account numbers and records of bank transfers which, it claims, confirm money passed from the dead Daisy to Rutelli’s shiny new foundation. From the name of Rutelli’s foundation, it sounds as if the illicit cash may have been a case of ‘sustainable’ finance or recycling.
Dodgy Funding Not the Point
Whether there was indeed a case of dodgy funding for the sustainable Rutelli foundation is not really the point here. What is more to the point is that Rutelli and the rest of the ex-Daisy band did not notice that Lusi was running amok with dead Daisy funds.
And Rutelli appears not to have realized that his new foundation was being funded with globs of money which were not his. Rutelli must have woken up one fine morning, noticed an extra €150,000 in his new foundation’s bank account, gone, “Oh, that’s nice” and popped out for his morning coffee.
Italy’s Future Prime Minister
If Rutelli, the former leader of the Daisy party remember, was not able to keep the finances of his party in order, and is not able to keep track of money being used to fund his foundation, then what hope does he have of keeping the funds of Italy in order? Yes, there is a remote, and now rather frightening, possibility that Francesco Rutelli could one day become Italy’s Prime Minister. Well, there was a remote possibility, but after the rotten Daisy funding fiasco, it looks as if nobody in their right minds would vote for Rutelli, whether he is innocent or not.
You can see it now: €50 billion mysteriously vanishes from Italy’s coffers in 2015. Prime Minister Rutelli’s reaction: “I’m innocent, I knew nothing”. Heck, he’d probably be demoted to finance minister.
Roll on those anti-corruption laws and an end Italy’s rotten daisies. Something also needs to be done about funding for Italy’s political parties too – they seem to be so awash with cash, they cannot keep track of it all.
Daisy photo by WiZZiK