Italian space chief offers to resign over expenses scandal

ROME (AFP) - The head of Italy's space agency submitted his resignation on Friday after a scandal over dubious expenses including hiring as a consultant a former tango dancer with no apparent aerospace credentials.

In a statement, Mr Enrico Saggese denied the accusations and said that he wanted to step down "so as to better defend my integrity, honour and prestige".

Prosecutors opened an investigation on Thursday into corruption, including Mr Saggese's use of a credit card provided by an agency subcontractor.

They are also looking into consultancy fees paid to the wife of an employee to provide "psychological assistance" and expense-paid trips to the United States for several managers of the space agency.

Mr Saggese has been head of the space agency since 2009 and the decision on whether or not to dismiss him is now up to Research Minister Maria Chiara Carrozza.