by Tyler Durden
February 15, 2013
With a week to go until the Italian elections,
things are getting a little odd to say the least.
The somewhat scandal prone Berlusconi, who
self-declared himself leading in the polls just recently, has come out
swinging in defense of his fellow business leaders' ethical egressions.
The Bunga party banner-man defends
not crimes," he notes, as
The FT reports, "bribes are a
phenomenon that exists and it’s useless to deny the existence of these
This apparently on the heels of the
Finmeccanica CEO's Indian helicopter deal bribes and Monte Paschi's
It would appear his argument lies somewhere
'if everyone's doing it - then it's ok', and 'everyone's been
doing it forever, so why stop now?'
One Italian paper, though, disgusted at
the state of their nation, describes the entire political and elite
establishment of 'guilty inertia'
- calling for an end to what Berlusconi appears to be saying is corrupt
And yet we are to trust these technocrats when
they say 'crisis over', all is well, recovery is here?
Via The FT,
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has
defended the need for bribery in winning contracts for Italy’s
multinationals, as politicians campaigning in general elections have
been forced to respond to a welter of corruption scandals revolving
around the nexus of politics and business.
“Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it’s useless to deny the
existence of these necessary situations
when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,” Mr
Berlusconi, leader of a centre-right coalition and seeking his
fourth stint in office, said on Thursday.
Berlusconi defended Giuseppe Orsi, head
of the state-controlled Finmeccanica defence group who was arrested on
Tuesday and accused of involvement in bribes paid to Indian government
officials to secure a helicopter contract.
Mr Orsi, appointed chief executive under the
last centre-right government in 2011 and replaced on Wednesday, has
denied the accusations.
“These are not crimes,” said Mr Berlusconi,
describing payments as
He also defended state-controlled energy
group Eni, whose chief executive Paolo Scaroni is under investigation
for alleged bribes paid by its Saipem subsidiary to win contracts in
Mr Scaroni denies the allegations.
Corruption scandals are dominating Italy’s election campaign,
feeding a longstanding anger among voters at the close links between
politics and business, with opinion polls indicating a fragmented and
possibly hung parliament after the February 24-25 election.
politicians predictably slammed Mr Berlusconi’s remarks, recalling he is
appealing against a tax fraud conviction while painting his People of
Liberty (PDL) as a party of sleaze.
This week prosecutors accused Roberto
Formigoni, outgoing PDL governor of Lombardy, with corruption in
awarding regional health sector contracts. Raffaele Fitto, former party
governor of Puglia, was sentenced to four years in prison on corruption
and abuse of office charges.
Both deny the accusations.
Corriere della Sera, a leading daily,
slammed the entire political
establishment in a front-page commentary, in particular the “guilty
inertia” of Mario Monti’s technocrat government for failing to
get to grips with the “cancer of derivatives” and for not intervening
sooner in the case of Finmeccanica.
The riposte of Mr Monti, who is leading a
centrist alliance in the elections, is that his government passed an
anti-corruption law last year that would have been even tougher had the
main parties collaborated.