Italy’s right-wing Northern League party, former ally of Silvio Berlusconi, is being investigated for suspected fraud and embezzlement of public funds, the BBC reports.Ironically, the party is known for attacking all forms of corruption and prides itself on being “clean”.
The Northern League’s (Lega Nord) treasurer, Francesco Belsito, has been accused of using public funds to pay for renovating party head Umberto Bossi’s house, and for travel, dinners, and hotel accommodation for Bossi’s children, according to the Guardian. The party’s investments in Cyprus and Tanzania are also being scrutinized for possible links to organised crime.
The evidence came to light through wiretaps and a raid on the party’s offices in Milan, Italian news agency AGI.it reports. While Belsito, who has since resigned, is a suspect, Bossi and his family are not, according to Milan’s chief prosecutor.
Bossi has defended the treasurer, saying any investments abroad were made to offset the risk of an Italian default, according to Euronews. He also reiterated his innocence, saying he knew nothing “and, in any case, not having much money, I have still not finished paying for the improvement to my house.”
Bossi was also portrayed as a model of honesty by Berlusconi.
“Anyone who knows Umberto Bossi and his personal and political life could not be even remotely touched by a suspicion that he had done anything illicit,” Italy’s former prime minister said. However, former Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has called on Belsito to resign, voicing fears the affair could harm the party in the upcoming local elections.
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