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The Curious Case of Aldo Brancher

Aldo Brancher is Italy’s latest minister, and an old friend and associate of one Silvio Berlusconi.  Supposedly, Brancher is the minister of ‘Decentralisation and Subsidiarity’, whatever that means.  Anyway, approximately two seconds after being appointed, Minister Brancher has become embroiled in scandal.

In a not so sparkling start to his ministerial career, Brancher wasted no time at all in invoking Italy’s ‘Legitimate Impediment’ laws to extricate himself from a legal wrangle involving a charge of embezzlement in connection with dodgy dealings surrounding the Banca Antonveneta case.

Investigations are taking place into whether the Antonveneta Bank’s share price was artificially manipulated by the release of false news.  The case involves quite serious allegations of doubtful business practices, the intention of which appeared to have been to keep the Antonveneta Bank out of foreign hands.

For reasons which are not yet clear, Aldo Brancher‘s good lady wife allegedly ended up with some three hundred thousand Euros in her bank account, and investigators are curious to know just where, and who, this not inconsiderable sum came from.  Yes, Brancher and wife are in something of a pickle.

Actually, Brancher has already had a couple of run ins with the Italian judiciary, and was only saved from doing time on one occasion by a Berlusconi law which de-criminalised false accounting.  Brancher was also caught up in Italy’s 90s mani-pulite – clean-hands – corruption revelations, and spent three months in prison.  In prison, Brancher kept his mouth firmly shut.

Surprising that someone who has been in a few pickles and is in still in a pickle should be made a minister, is it not?  Well, it should be, but this is Italy, and Italy, and its politics, has its own set of contorted rules.

This time, though, Italy’s written rules, otherwise known as laws, seem to have put paid to Brancher’s attempts to get himself off the hook.

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Ministry? What Ministry?

Brancher tried to have an imminent court case against him put on hold, claiming ‘legitimate impediment’, on the grounds that he needed to organise his new ministry.

The judges hearing Brancher’s legitimate impediment claim said ‘no’, partly because on paper, Minister Brancher does not have any formal responsibilities, meaning that his ministerial duties do not require him to set up a ministry.  Oh dear, problem.

Brancher does not Know What His Ministerial Duties will be

Even more curious is the fact that Brancher himself does not seem to know just what his ministerial responsibilities will be, well, that is the distinct impression one gets from this article from La Repubblica of 27 June: Brancher: “Contro di me odio e cattiverie E il ministro balbetta sulle deleghe.” – “Brancher: “Spite and Hate against me, and the minister babbles over his role.”.  Very curious.

Far be it from this Italy watcher to go suggesting that Brancher’s appointment was merely a ruse designed to help out a well-connected old friend of Silvio Berlusconi.  And it would be dreadful of one to hint that appointing a new minister (of what?) does not set the best of examples at a time Italy’s government is loudly trumpeting the need for massive cuts in public expenditure.  Talk about doing as I say, but not as I do.

Needless to say, the rumblings surrounding the curious case of Aldo Brancher have damaged the already wiretap law tarnished image of Silvio Berlusconi’s government a little further.

A curious place, is Italy.

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