Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Former Northern League treasurer arrested

English
© ANSA

Milan, April 24 - The former treasurer of the
regionalist Northern League party, Francesco Belsito, was
arrested Wednesday on charges of alleged criminal association
and aggravated fraud.
He had been under investigation since a probe into alleged
misuse of public funding to the party broke last year in a
scandal that led party founder and leader Umberto Bossi to quit.
A 2.5-million-euro yacht was bought by one of Bossi's sons
as part of widespread embezzlement, police said.
The Northern League said it was an injured party in the
case.
Milan prosecutors allege that Belsito was part of a
'business committee' that used its own influence to wield
illegal influence on Italian businesses.
Two others were also arrested on Wednesday as part of the
probe - Veneto businessman Stefano Bonet and deal maker Romolo
Girardelli, nicknamed ''The admiral''.
The request for the arrests dates back to the end of
October, and regards an investigation into Belsito's
relationship with state-controlled shipbuilder Fincantieri and
Northern League party funds invested in Cyprus and Tanzania.
Belsito's arrest warrant, signed by Milan prosecutor
Gianfranco Criscione, reads that Belsito was ''able to influence
the decisions of institutions and large public and private
companies, including for example SIRAM SpA, Fincantieri SpA and
GNV SpA, by virtue of the political power deriving from the
offices held''.
Siram is an energy services and technology company. GNV is
a passenger ship operator.
Belsito is ex'-vice chairman of Fincantieri and held an
important regulatory role as ex-undersecretary for the Normative
Simplification Ministry.
Prosecutors in Reggio Calabria also believe Belsito may
have been involved in recycling money for the 'Ndrangheta
mafia's powerful De Stefano gang, which based in the the
southern Italian city.
Prosecutors believe Belsito sought to set up a trust
company located in Lugano, Switzerland, for the preparation of
business structures that would justify the transfer of Italian
money abroad.
Investigators are also hunting down a Swiss bank account
that may have been made available to Milanese emissaries of the
De Stefano 'Ndrangheta mafia gang to launder money from illegal
activities.
Belsito's lawyer said his client was arrested at about 6am
at his home in Genoa and taken to Milan.
The lawyer also confirmed that the arrest was ''connected
to (Belsito's) past role as treasurer'' and said he ''was
mystified at the arrest in this moment, a year after his
interrogation, also because Belsito no longer holds any
office''.
The documentation that launched the Milan probe was
forwarded from Naples prosecutors Henry John Woodcock and
Vencenzo Piscitelli.
Last year, Belsito was accused of buying gold bullion and
diamonds valued at hundreds of thousands of euros that were
allegedly bought illegally with public election funds.
Prosecutors said bank records for the jewels and gold surfaced
as part of as part of an investigation into Belsito for
allegedly channeling public funds to the family of the Northern
League's ex-leader Umberto Bossi.
Belsito was accused of buying the items along with former
Senate Deputy Speaker Rosy Mauro, who was expelled from the
party, and League Senator Piergiorgio Stiffoni.
In April 2012, Belsito turned over gold and diamonds to
authorities as well as an Audi A6 sedan which at one point
belonged to Bossi's son Renzo, who stepped down as councillor in
the Lombardy regional assembly.

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