Expo 2015 contracts

Shock report by Italian daily

As Italian diplomats prepared to promote Expo 2015 with 200 events in 200 posts around the world on Monday’s national day, a leading Italian daily published a report claiming that corruption in awarding contracts for the world exposition is now “out of control”.

Left-leaning daily La Repubblica reported Saturday 31 May that the chair of the Watchdog Authority for Public Contracts, Sergio Santoro, has denounced the extent of the sleaze to Raffaele Cantone, the anti-corruption commissioner appointed on 12 May by prime minister Matteo Renzi in the wake of the recent wave of arrests in Milan, to avoid any repetition of criminal action.

Santoro’s dossier, which the two journalists who signed the article say they have read, denounces that as many as 82 rules of the code of contracts have been revoked or waived by the cabinet office, and thus have cut out “any kind of real checks” by either the Watchdog Authority or the Court of Accounts.

Alerted by last month’s arrests, the authority’s experts immediately re-checked all the contracts to work out what would have happened if the waivers had not been in place, if the 2006 code of contracts, drawn up specifically to combat corruption, had been fully respected.

The Santoro report quotes as an example one particularly well-known contract – for the foundation work for the pavilions – which has already been criticised in the media for its high cost of €55m and because it had already caught the attention of investigators into the Frigerio criminal clan. Instead of issuing an open invitation to bid, it states, Expo authorities announced a restricted competition between only seven groups of companies, one of which won the bid despite being led by a firm already under accusation of paying kickbacks.

Not only that: the commission which examined the bids and awarded the contract allegedly did so on the basis not of objective economic parameters, but of the “aesthetics and merit” of the bid. Some of the gang under arrest were heard to boast of having succeeded in winning the contract by having “two out of three” commissioners under their control, making the irregular award possible.

La Repubblica’s article lists details of other cases, which will be embarrassing for Italian diplomats at a time when they are launching their promotional offensive to attract the countries who have still not made up their minds whether to participate in Expo 2015.

Expo 2015 currently has 147 participants signed up, including countries as well as international and civil society organisations.

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