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Berlusconi fingers 'criminal use of spread' for downfall

Reiterates need to investigate Napolitano's role

31 December, 14:23
Berlusconi fingers 'criminal use of spread' for downfall (ANSA) - Rome, December 31 - Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi declared on Monday that "a criminal use of the spread" was instrumental to the demise of his leadership in November 2011. Speaking on Radio Capital, Berlusconi also reiterated his announcement in recent days that, if he is elected, a parliamentary commission will investigate Italian President Giorgio Napolitano's role in the ex-premier's ouster and the formation of the Mario Monti-led technical government that followed.

"Certainly there was a criminal use of the spread. On the role of Napolitano, I will not make any judgements. The commission will clarify the roles each person played," Berlusconi said.

The spread - the difference between interest rates on Italian bonds and the German benchmark - is an important gauge of the market's confidence in Italy's ability to pay down its enormous debt.

Berlusconi was forced to step down in November 2011 as interest rates - and the spread - threatened to send Italy into a catastrophic sovereign-debt crisis.

Berlusconi says he believes conspiracy and market manipulation were responsible for his downfall, rather than the market's diffidence in his political leadership.

In the Monday radio interview, Berlusconi also dismissed the importance of opinions against him among political leaders of other European countries.

"The support of certain government leaders for Monti? It is clear that the other countries defend their interests," Berlusconi added. "Premier Berlusconi did not please them. I was not mocked but feared in Europe."