Sicily officials arrested in graft probe

Businessmen 'got illicit farm subsidies worth millions'

(ANSA) - Palermo, March 4 - Several Sicilian regional government officials and businessmen were arrested Wednesday in a major graft probe. Palermo finance police executed 24 warrants including four in jail custody, 12 under house arrest and eight stay orders.
    The functionaries and the businessmen are variously accused of conspiracy, aggravated fraud in getting public monies, corruption, false public statements, revealing official secrets, and suppression and burying public acts.
    Some 14 companies were seized, three based in Hungary, Austria and Romania, worth a total of some 24 million euros.
    Also seized were financial assets, goods and property worth over 12.5 million euros.
    The issuing of illegal contributions totalling some 3.5 million euros was blocked.
    The investigation focused on the illicit authorisation of farm subsidies by the Sicilian regional government.
    The finance guard said there had been some 12 million euros in illicit subsidies.
    Two businessmen allegedly obtained the subsidies by issuing fake invoices through the companies in Hungary, Austria and Romania.


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