Italian politicians held for suspected fraud

Rome, April 25 (IANS/AKI) A treasurer for Italy’s Northern League party has been arrested on charges of fraud and embezzlement while three other politicians were placed under house arrest amid a probe into misuse of public funds.

Police arrested former Northern League party treasurer Francesco Belsito and also searched his home in the northwestern city of Genoa.

Among the charges faced by Belsito is that he embezzled 2.5 million euros of public funds to buy a luxury yacht for one of the sons of party founder Umberto Bossi.

Bossi was forced to resign as Northern League leader last year amid a scandal over alleged misuse of public funding.

Belsito was among several people placed under investigation in the probe, and is also accused of transferring 5.7 milion euros to offshore accounts at the end of 2011.

Among the companies cited in the arrest warrant was state-controlled shipbuilder Fincantieri, of which Belsito is a former vice chairman.

A businessman from the northeastern Veneto region, Stefano Bonet, and two other entrepreneurs were also arrested.

Prosecutors also believe Belsito may have been involved in recycling money for the Calabrian mafia though a trust company and possibly a bank account in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, three politicians in the southern region of Basilicata were placed under house arrest amid a probe into misuse of public funds.

The centre-left work and education commissioner Vincenzo Viti and agriculture commissioner Rosa Mastrosimone and conservative regional councillor Nicola Pagliuca were put under house arrest on suspicion of fraud and theft.

As part of the same probe into alleged embezzlement of party political funds, seven regional councillors were banned from Basilicata’s capital Potenza.

Assets of 100,00 euros were impounded from suspects in the probe.

–IANS/AKI

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