Fourth ex-PM in fraud inquiry: Warrant served on De Mita in Naples - Fiat No 2 under suspicion in Milan

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The Independent Online
ROME - The former leader of the Christian Democrats, Ciriaco De Mita, yesterday became the fourth Italian former prime minister to come under investigation for corruption, writes Patricia Clough.

He was served notice of investigations as another star in the firmament, Cesare Romiti, Fiat's chief executive second only to Gianni Agnelli, the company president, was reported to be under similar suspicions.

Mr De Mita was the latest of numerous prominent personalities affected by investigations into suspicions of large-scale corruption to do with reconstruction after the 1980 earthquake in the Irpinia region east of Naples. Warrants were served on 15 people including bankers, builders and businessmen, while the head of the Interior Ministry's civil defence department, Elveno Pastorelli, was also put under investigation.

More than 25 people, including Mr De Mita's brother Michele, a building contractor, have been arrested on charges of fraud, false accounting and receiving stolen goods in connection with the generous state aid channelled into the area, which is Mr De Mita's power base.

The widespread but unconfirmed reports of investigations against Mr Romiti came a month after he had presented a memorandum to Milan magistrates detailing kickbacks to politicians and officials after Fiat decided it would co-operate with the investigators. Mr Romiti is reported to have come under scrutiny after evidence from other executives reportedly indicated that he had not told the magistrates everything.

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