Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Former Northern League treasurer arrested

English
© ANSA

(updates previous).
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 is suspected of leading a so-called ''business
committee'' influencing contracts for corporate giants like
ship-building group Fincantieri.
The Northern League said it would stand as an injured party
in any eventual trial.
Belsito 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.
Belsito's Wednesday arrest is connected to an investigation
in which prosecutors believe Belsito may have been involved in
laundering money for the 'Ndrangheta mafia De Stefano gang,
based in the the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria.
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 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.
Two others were also arrested on Wednesday as part of the
probe - Veneto businessman Stefano Bonet and deal maker Romolo
Girardelli, nicknamed ''The admiral''.
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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