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New year, old vices. The image of Italy offered by the different Courts of Auditors of the country, in its various territorial shapes, is still far from reaching the minimum threshold of righteousness to be able to be defined “civil”. Robbery, fraud, ploy, the shortcut are still widespread in the public Italian fabric. And it is shocking that, in this period of serious financial and social difficulties, corruption lurks in the very sectors that should control. An insult to justice, understood not only as a cluster of rules, but also as the basis of living together in a country.

In Florence, for instance, a company obtained a concession contract for the supervision and maintenance of the parking lots. This system included several things: Cost reimbursement of the “parking violation assessment service”, business revenue from the parking management in the parking control areas and parking areas for the residents. Without going into the technicalities of the sentence, and only by way of simplification, we can describe the situation as follows: most of this money did not reach the coffers of the Palazzo Vecchio, which alsohad to pay the staff of the company that had won the contract. The whole story was seasoned with a number of irregularities that made it difficult to unravel the situation. Thus, the judges and accountants had to appoint an ad hoc consultant to solve it.

“It is unlikely – the judges write in the sentence – that the City of Florence will have to bear all the costs for the hired personnel and then flat rate ‘refunds’ its labor cost.” Everyone would be able to be a businessman this way: the public covers the costs and reimburses the work of the private company, which profits also from the parking meters… In fact, the Court of Auditors has condemned in the end the accounting agent, i.e., the company that managed the contract, to pay over half a million euros to the City.

The region of the country changes, but the problem is still the same. In the Veneto region, the beginning of the year was issued a sentence for over 130,000 euros of damage connected to the management of public housing. What happened, in essence? That despite a law that entered into force and which defined mandatory restatement of the rent depending on the area, the state of maintenance and the square footage of the property, the service managers continued to manage the rents with the same old and confused criteria, causing a loss in terms of revenue to ATER.

Be careful, because it is not a trifle: we have seen  too often in TV news friends and family of powerful people enjoy beautiful houses in central areas paying insignificant rents; besides restore order in this field, the above mentioned law was supposed to strike exactly these privileges.  The decision reads that were even launched “…assignments of non Erp leasehold in total disregard towards the corporate rules and regulations”, with serious damage to the body “…since recovering the total amounts which should have been paid for the rent is extremely tortuous.

Stepping back, there are a couple of  “number 1” sentences that are worth mentioning “1” handed down by different courts in 2015, not to forget to keep that thread of memory that makes it easier to understand the present. Like the one in Emilia Romagna, where an officer of the Revenue Guard, abusing his control power, has infiltrated into the computer system of the Administration, using the computers of other unwary officials in a fraudulent way, to alter data on the fiscal positions of some companies taxpayers and those concerning his own position. The “trick” behind the citizens’ back had a cost of 324,443 euros for the community. The protagonist “invested” by putting in place from time to time malicious and corrupt conduct, bribery, abuse of office, disclosure of official secrets and aggravated fraud.

An isolated case? Not at all. The judgment handed down by the Judicial Section 1 for the Lazio region scores another cunning official of the public administration, an INPS employee, which could have resulted in a financial loss of 863,563 euros; these money are public, that is to say, our money, since we are talking of pensions.

This Arsene Lupin had set up a mechanism which allowed him to dismiss unduly amounts of money to relatives of Italian workers, domestic and otherwise, in the form of welfare checks. These “checks” are normally paid upon application (accompanied by the necessary documents) on the basis of legitimizing some elements, such as family income, number of family members, etc.

In this case, however, the Revenue Guard has found nonexistent applications, multiple dismissals, false families, etc. For a total number of 54 fraudulent transactions of tens of thousands euros each.

Luckily, these two scams we have described above were discovered, but beyond the proven criminal responsibility, most of that money is gone and irretrievable.

And these are only some of the sentences with which judges accountants have given the “good year” to the country, as always. Tangentopoli is now a distant memory, and we have not learned anything from it. Not even how to get away with it…. fortunately. But it is of little consolation, since the modus operandi of “swindle thy neighbor”, better if he is defenseless and in need, is still so widespread in the public mechanism.

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