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Liguria ex-vice president arrested in spending probe

Nicolò Scialfa accused of embezzlement and forgery

14 January, 12:47
Liguria ex-vice president arrested in spending probe (ANSA) - Genoa, January 14 - Finance police on Tuesday arrested the former vice-president of the northern Liguria region Nicolò Scialfa in connection with a probe into spending by councillors representing his then-political party, Italia dei Valori (IdV).

Scialfa, now a regional councillor for splinter group Diritti e Libertà, is accused of embezzlement and forgery of public documents. He was IdV caucus leader at the time of the alleged spending abuses between 2010 and 2012. Finance police have also searched the homes of three other people in connection with the probe: current IdV caucus leader Maruska Piredda; Stefano Quaini, who has since quit politics; and Marylin Fusco, a councillor for Diritti e Libertà. They are under investigation for allegedly dealing in false documentation, embezzlement and aggravated fraud for the attainment of public funds.

Meanwhile, Scialfa has been placed under house arrest. Investigators claim he stole 70,000 euros from party funds. Prosecutors began investigations in autumn 2012 after it emerged that the IdV group in the Liguria regional council had already spent its entire budget of 230,000 euros for that year. Piredda reportedly then had to pay the group's five employees out of her own pocket. "I feel bad but I am not going to resign," said Scialfa on being placed under investigation in January 2013. "I am innocent, if I have made errors of evaluation I will discuss them with the judges and I will take full responsibility for my actions".

He subsequently resigned as regional vice-president at the end of the month. Liguria is just one of a number of regional councils to have been hit by scandals over party spending of public funds.

In Lazio, the alleged misappropriation of funds by the caucus leader for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's former People of Freedom (PdL) party led to the resignation of the PdL regional governor, Renata Polverini, in late 2012.