Sunday, June 28, 2015

Organizations tied to Catholic Church cash in on lucrative Italy migrant center contracts-Reuters

"The migrant reception centers are often run under contract by companies linked to social cooperative organizations, often tied to the Catholic Church."

6/5/15, "Italy junior minister investigated in corruption probe," Reuters

"Italian prosecutors placed a junior member of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government under investigation in a growing political corruption scandal over alleged fraud and contract rigging at migrant reception centers, officials said on Friday.

The announcement came a day after police arrested 44 people and placed 21 others under investigation in the same case.

Prosecutors in Catania, Sicily, said they had included Giuseppe Castiglione, undersecretary for agriculture and a member of Renzi's center-right coalition partners, on a list of officials targeted in the so-called "Mafia Capital" investigation which has been running since last year.

Castiglione, the first member of the national government to be directly implicated in the case, said he had not been officially informed he was under investigation and he denied any wrongdoing....

The alleged rigging of contracts at migrant reception centers is only one part of the Mafia Capitale investigation, which has uncovered evidence of a wider system of corruption organized by a network of politicians and businessmen.

The burgeoning scandal has largely involved local politicians in Rome, although it has caused serious embarrassment to Renzi's center-left Democratic Party (PD), which currently runs the city administration.

But it has underlined the extent to which unscrupulous operators have been able to exploit the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, which has left authorities struggling to handle the tens of thousands of refugees arriving by boat.

The migrant reception centers are often run under contract by companies linked to social cooperative organizations, often tied to the Catholic Church. The alleged organizers of the scheme are accused of fixing tenders to win management contracts.
Castiglione's name was linked to allegations that officials fixed contracts to manage the migrant reception center in the Sicilian town of Mineo, the same center where survivors were taken after a disaster in April in which as many as 800 people died."

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Gareth Jones)"


Migrant centers have proved a rich source of income for social organizations in Italy:  

6/4/15, "Italian police arrest 44 over migrant center corruption," Reuters

"Italian police said they arrested 44 people on Thursday suspected of being part of a network of corrupt politicians and business people in Rome accused of rigging public contracts to manage migrant reception centers.

The arrests follow the discovery of a vast system of corruption in the Rome city government last year -- a case dubbed "Mafia Capital" which prompted the city hall to ask the national anti-corruption authority to investigate a list of suspect public contracts.

Rome police said search warrants were also issued against another 21 people in the area around Rome, L'Aquila in central Italy and Catania and Enna in Sicily.

They said the investigation had uncovered a widespread system designed to allow a cartel of companies to win lucrative public contracts to manage migrant reception centers.

The centers, often run on contract by cooperative social organizations, have proved a rich source of income for unscrupulous operators as the Mediterranean migrant boat crisis has intensified, leaving authorities struggling to deal with the tens of thousands of arrivals.

"We need to stop the boat departures and stop the public tenders immediately," Matteo Salvini, head of the anti-immigrant Northern League party said following the latest arrests.

The case has underlined the persistent problem of political corruption in Italy, which ranked 69 out of 177 countries in the latest index by Transparency International, the global anti-corruption group.

Police said "Mafia Capital" was based around a network running back over many years in Rome involving local politicians, business people and criminals linked to violent neo-fascist groups active in the 1970s and 1980s.

They said the cartel had been able to secure "significant economic benefits" by fixing public contracts to manage migrant reception centers and excluding rival bidders.

In addition to the "Mafia Capital" case last year, there were also high profile scandals around the award of public contracts for the Milan Expo and the Venice flood barrier corporation."


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