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Italy counts the cost of corruption

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 01:40

Another corruption scandal is making the headlines in Italy - this time involving contracts for public works, including a high speed train line. As Joel Flynn reports it highlights the problems the government is facing as it tries to reform a flagging economy.

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Another day in Italy, another corruption scandal. The latest one to hit the headlines - four arrests in Florence and 51 under investigation in connection with corrupt management of public works contracts. Police say the sums involved total 25 billion euros - they also implicate current and former government ministers. Investigations began with suspicions over deals to build part of the high-speed TAV railway line. That eventually unearthing a bigger web of wrongdoing, including rigging contracts for the Milan Expo world fair, which was at the centre of a corruption scandal last year. Italy has long struggled with the problem. Six years of on-off recession creating fertile ground for kickbacks and the black economy. But that in turn is reportedly prolonging the economic crisis, despite prime minister Matteo Renzi efforts to tackle the problem. Barclay's Will Hobbs says more needs to be done. SOUNDBITE: Barclays Market Analyst, Will Hobbs, saying (English): "Certainly one of the benefits that we have in the UK I think is, as a home for international investment that tends to be underestimated is a rule of law, a consistent, visible, rule of law where you get reasonably quick recompense or reasonably quick justice if you're a company or a person, and I think that probably is sadly absent from Italy right now, as is reflected in the World Bank indicators in terms of their various indicators to do with justice, corruption and so on and so on." In fact - Italy is ranked only 69th in one key corruption index - joint last in the European Union with Bulgaria, Greece and Romania. Renzi might be moving in the right direction, but more scandals like this one could derail his efforts to turn the country around.

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Italy counts the cost of corruption

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 01:40