Italian finance police arrested 10 people in Sicily, including the regional co-ordinator for the coronavirus emergency, over a corruption scheme in health service tenders.
The investigation dates back to 2016 and uncovered bribes from equipment and services contracts totalling nearly €600m (£540m).
Prosecutors in Palermo seized seven companies, based in Sicily and Lombardy.
According to investigators, bribes promised to public officials are thought to total €1.8m.
Arrests include the head of Sicily’s coronavirus response commission, Antonio Candela, 55, who has been placed under house arrest.
Ironically, Candela has lived for years under police escort after, a few years ago, he publicly condemned corruption and bribes in the Health System.
“Remember, the Health System is a condominium”, Candela was caught saying on wiretap. “And I’m the block chairman.”
Italy’s Guardia di Finanza (finance police) said they have uncovered a scheme where ‘’dishonest public officials, unscrupulous businessmen and entrepreneurs were willing to do anything to obtain contracts worth millions”.
The mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, described the news as “an extremely serious corruption system” which allegedly involved creaming off 5% commissions on public contracts.
Read more via ANSA