martedì 27 maggio 2014

Ex-environment minister probed for transnational graft

Clini linked to alleged corruption in China,Montenegro contracts

(ANSA) - Rome, May 27 - Former environment minister Corrado Clini faced fresh legal woes on Tuesday when he was placed under investigation for alleged 'transnational corruption' in relation to projects in China and Montenegro. On Monday Clini, 67, was placed under house arrest in connection with a separate probe by prosecutors in the northern city of Ferrara into allegations of embezzlement in connection with a water-treatment project in Iraq.

In that investigation investigators claim he and engineer Augusto Calore Pretner skimmed 3.4 million euros from the 54-million euros New Eden project, a joint Iraqi-Italian initiative financed by the Italian environment ministry to restore marshlands in the Tigris and Euphrates basin. The latest probe by Rome prosecutors involves environmental redevelopment projects worth 200 million euros in the Chinese case and 14 million euros in the Montenegro plan. Clini's wife Martina Hauser and four or five other people are also implicated in the investigation, prosecution sources said. The Iraq probe began in summer 2013 after police spotted a series of false invoices from Dutch company GBC for payments to engineering firm Med Ingegneria Srl, based in Ferrara.

Med Ingegneria is part of a consortium, Nature Iraq, that also includes another engineering firm in which Pretner has a stake. Clini, a senior research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, was interrogated last October as part of the investigation. At the time he was director-general of the environment ministry, a position he had held before joining the government of former premier Mario Monti in November 2011, and one he resumed after the executive was replaced in April 2013. A graduate in occupational medicine and public health, Clini also coordinated the technical committee responsible for drawing up Italy's plan for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and chaired the inter-ministerial task force for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol from 2005 to 2009. His time in office as environment minister was marked by his handling of the environmental disaster surrounding the fatal January 2012 capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the remains of which still rest off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Clini also handled the case of the troubled ILVA steelworks in the southern port city of Taranto, parts of which were impounded by local magistrates in July 2012 over serious environmental and health concerns, and the rubbish crisis in Rome. 

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