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Italy battles crescendo of corruption scandals

Published on Jun 23, 2014 1:32 PM
Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni, seen here in February, was forced to resign last week amid a sweeping probe into a multi-billion-euro flood barrier project, after police said they had traced some €20 million in kickbacks. Italian  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who came to power earlier this year, has pledged to make inroads into corruption, seen as a significant stumbling block in attracting foreign investors to the euro zone's third-largest economy. PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - From a bribery racket in Venice to accusations of contract rigging in Milan and mafia infiltration of the judiciary, Italy is engulfed by a wave of corruption scandals which have raised the spectre of depravities past.

Reports of widespread graft in northern Italy in particular have drawn comparisons with Italy's "Clean Hands" investigations of the 1990s, which saw top politicians jailed and swept away the country's post-war party system.

Two decades on, Italy still comes third-to-last in Transparency International's European rankings - ahead of just Bulgaria and Greece - and corruption costs the taxpayer some €60 billion ($100 billion) a year.

The economic crisis which sank Italy into its worst post-war recession "makes these fresh scandals even more intolerable in the eyes of the citizens", Mr Michelangelo Anderlini, Transparency's deputy head in Italy, told AFP.

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