Italy opens corruption probe over Colombia arms sale
Former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, ex-business leaders and ex-Colombian officials are under investigation in Italy for alleged corruption in a potential arms sale, D’Alema’s lawyer told AFP Tuesday, confirming Italian media reports.
Police searched the homes and offices of D’Alema, the former CEO of the Leonardo defence group Alessandro Profumo, and Giuseppe Giordo, ex-head of the military division of Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, the reports said.
D’Alema’s lawyer Gianluca Luongo confirmed the story and said that the former leader denied the allegations.
“D’Alema has cooperated with investigators, furnishing them with what they sought,” he said. He added his client “has no criminal relevance, no link to any crime.”
The proposed contract, worth four billion euros ($4.3 billion), is related to the sale of military aircraft and ships, the reports said.
Eight Italians in total are targeted by the investigation, Italian news agency ANSA said.
The probe also targets former Colombian politicians, including ex-foreign minister Marta Lucia Ramirez, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.
Those investigated are accused of violating an Italian law against “embezzlement, graft, solicitation to give or promise benefits, corruption and instigation to corruption, (and) abuse of office”, it said.
Italian media revealed early last year that D’Alema, 74 — prime minister from 1998 to 2000 and foreign minister from 2006 to 2008 — participated in negotiations on a possible arms sale to Colombia.
He promised to share an 80-million-euro commission with Colombian and Italian intermediaries, the reports said.
“Why are we working, because we are stupid? No, because we are convinced that in the end, we will receive 80 million euros,” he was alleged to have said in a wiretap leaked to the media.
D’Alema denied the reports, saying he would not have received a single cent if the deal had gone through.
Contacted by AFP, the Leonardo group declined to comment.
Fincantieri said in an email that Giuseppe Giordo “left the company more than a year ago.”