Former senior Italian League party official arrested on corruption charges
Italian police on Wednesday arrested Paolo Arata, former League party energy consultant and former Forza Italia (FI) MP, and his son Francesco, on suspicion of corruption.
The pair are accused of corruption, money laundering and falsely claiming assets.
Arata and son are suspected of being silent partners of Trapani wind farm entrepreneur Vito Nicastri, who prosecutors say is one of the bankrollers of Cosa Nostra’s No.1 fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro.
The Aratas have been probed for months for a raft of kickbacks at the Sicilian regional government which also involves Nicastri, who was remanded in custody in another probe in April after continuing to commit crimes under house arrest.
Nicastri was serve a fresh arrest warrant in the new probe along with his son Manlio, who are facing the same charges as the Aratas.
Former regional energy official Alberto Tinnirello was place under house arrest on suspicion of corruption.
A branch of the probe earlier this year involved former League party transport undersecretary Armando Siri, who was accused of taking a 30,000 euro bribe from Arata to favour the windfarm sector by filing an amendment that was never approved.
Arata had invested heavily in that sector.
Siri, while denying wrongdoing, was eventually forced out by the League’s ruling partner the 5-Star Movement (M5S).
After Arata’s arrest, M5S bigwig Alessandro Di Battista said “the M5S should denounce sleaze and graft and the government should go on to respect its contract”.
M5S Regional Affairs Undersecretary Stefano Buffagni said Arata’s arrest “shows we were right to push for Siri’s resignation”.