November 22, 2017 / 7:36 PM / a month ago

Italian magistrates investigate whether ex-Treasury official sold secrets

ROME (Reuters) - Italian magistrates are investigating whether a Treasury official sold confidential government information to her previous employers, Ernst & Young, two judicial sources involved in the case said on Wednesday.

Magistrates suspect that Susanna Masi was paid some 220,000 euros (£195,290.33) between 2013-2015 in return for sensitive material, including on planned tax reforms which could have given the professional services firm an unfair advantage over its rivals, the sources said.

Masi’s lawyer, Giorgio Perroni, confirmed his client was being investigated but denied she had done anything wrong. Neither Ernst & Young’s Italian office, nor lawyers representing the company, responded to requests for comment.

The judicial sources told Reuters that magistrates had emails and wiretaps to back up their case. Perroni said he was still waiting to see the case files after which his client would request to meet the investigators.

“We are certain that we will be able to demonstrate the correct behaviour of my client and the total lack of foundation of the accusations,” Perroni told Reuters.

Masi joined the Treasury in 2012, becoming a tax adviser for the government in 2013. In 2015, she was appointed to the board of Equitalia -- a state-owned tax collection agency -- while retaining her position within the Treasury, her lawyer said.

Corriere della Sera newspaper, which first reported the story on Wednesday, said besides leaking confidential information, Masi was also suspected of lobbying on behalf of Ernst & Young for modifications to the tax code.

Corriere said Masi worked for Ernst & Young before joining the Treasury. Perroni confirmed she used to work for the company in Italy, but did not know the exact dates.

The Treasury declined to comment on the case.

Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Writing by Crispian Balmer Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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