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Italy space agency chief arrested on graft charges

Saggese 'threatened whistle-blower'

25 February, 18:33
Italy space agency chief arrested on graft charges (ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Rome prosecutors on Tuesday placed Italian Space Agency (ASI) chief Enrico Saggese under house arrest on graft charges after a fellow official blew the whistle on what he said were fake invoices issued to agency suppliers.

Saggese allegedly threatened whistle-blower Roberto Borsa with shutting down his section and "compromising his professional future" if he went to authorities, according to court documents.

The allegedly dodgy invoices were issued to Rome-based Sistina Travel, which organized ASI employees' trips abroad, and Turin-based Get-It Communication, a PR company. Including Saggese, seven ASI officials are currently under investigation in the graft probe. These include ASI spokespersons Francesca and Mario Giacomo Sette, who are employees of Italian aerospace and industrial giant Finmeccanica. Operating under the education and research ministry, ASI reportedly had a yearly budget of 700 million euros as of 2010.

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