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Letta vows to tackle conflicts of interest in Berlusconi jab

'Now is the time, Italians have waited a long time'

24 January, 13:37
Letta vows to tackle conflicts of interest in Berlusconi jab (ANSA) - Rome, January 24 - Premier Enrico Letta says his 2014 government agenda will crack down on conflicts of interest, making an indirect reference to ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and his media empire.

"Now is the time to forge rules regarding conflicts of interest. Italians have been waiting for it for a long time, and now we're going to deal with it," the center-left premier told Italian television program Otto e Mezzo. "It will be one of the points we discuss in coming weeks. I would like to get to the heart of issues pertaining to the triumph of lawfulness. There are too many conflicts (of interest) in the country". There has been talk of a conflict-of-interest law ever since three-time premier Berlusconi, who owns Italy's three biggest commercial TV channels as well as its largest publishing group, entered politics in 1994 and swept to victory with his center-right Forza Italia party.

Observers note there is already a clause in voting rules declaring ineligible anyone with a State concession - a provision that has never been applied to Berlusconi, who was kicked out of parliament late last year over a binding tax-fraud conviction at his Mediaset empire.

Berlusconi loyalist Daniela Santanchè, an MP in his center-right Forza Italia party, said the premier's comments were partisan, and likened him to judges Berlusconi accuses of left-wing bias in his numerous legal entanglements. "Even Letta uses Berlusconi, pulling out conflicts of interest for a reckoning within the (center left)," she added.