Joe Bruno on the Mob – Italian Politicians Are Worse then the Mafia


We read every day in the European newspapers about how the Mafia and the Camorra are terrorizing Italy. But if you read the article below, it’s very clear the biggest crooks in Italy are the politicians, led by its 74-year old horndog Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (A married man, Berlusconi was accused of having an affair with with an under-age prostitute named Ruby The Heart Stealer – You can’t make this stuff up.).

What the Italian politicians are being paid, and the scams they are perpetrating on the Italian public, are something even the Italian criminals are not capable of doing.

The average salary of an Italian politician is 145,000 pounds a year. That’s twice as much as British politicians are paid, and three times more than politicians in Portugal and Spain are paid. In American dollars, the Italian’s average salary comes to around a cozy $240,000 a year.

Like in the American TV commercials – But wait! There’s even more!

Italian politicians belong to private social clubs and spas, where they can relax in the sun, play tennis, and even get a shiatsu massage, if that’s what their heart’s desire. All on the taxpayer dollar.

According to the London Daily Mail, 257,000 pounds was spent in the past year on psychotherapy for troubled Italian politicians; 200,000 pounds on hearing aids (they are certainly deaf to the taxpayer’s needs), and another 1 million pounds was spent on spa treatments, and opticians’ fees (Why do they need an optician, when they are the ones stealing the taxpayers blind?).

But wait! There’s even more!

In Italy, there are over 200,000 vehicles used by politicians, at no cost to them. These cars include Maseratis, Porsches, Audis and Mercedes. And if a politician wants a private chauffeur, all he has to do is claim a death threat has been made on his life.

And how do these Italian politicians pull off that neat trick?

Well, according to the article below, they just have a friend or a relative make the threatening call, and — Presto!!! – a free 24-hour chauffeur appears, to drive their luxury car for them. Or wait outside the spa while the Italian politicians gets the full treatment inside.

But wait! There’s even more!!

Italian politicians’ phone bills are paid by the state, even for personal calls. They have a free hairdressing salon in parliament, where seven barbers are each paid 120,000 pounds a year to trim these bastard’s hair (If I were an Italian politician, I wouldn’t let anyone near my neck with a razor. Not even – especially? – my wife).

To add insult to injury, Italian politicians make thousands of pounds off fake claims on parliament’s insurance policy for theft and damage.

Their favorite stolen item?

Would you believe — a cashmere coat, worth a mere 1000 pounds?

Italy does not only have an organized crime problem. It has an organized (and legal) political crook problem too.

Guess who’s going to jail first?

The link to the article in the London Daily Mall is below.

Empire of the spivs: We fret about our MPs’ expenses, but in Italy the awesome corruption of politicians is frankly beyond belief

By Andrew Malone

4th August 2011

As a bright blue-and-gold European Union flag fluttered overhead in the breeze, two ageing tennis players appeared to be reliving their youth this week at one of Rome’s exclusive private sports clubs.

After each shot, the men — both grey-haired, well-fed and of distinguished bearing — were applauded by two younger female companions wearing bikinis and watching from sun-loungers beside the court.

According to staff at the club, the men were Italian politicians. And they were doing what they do best: living the Dolce Vita, the sweet life, at the rest of the EU’s expense.
Silvio Berlusconi’s behaviour regarding court cases and alleged allegations of sex with underage girls has set the tone for his nation’s politicians

For here, at this sumptuous club nestling in the shade by the river Tiber, and screened from the public by high fences and locked gates, no expense is spared for the most pampered politicians in Europe, if not the world. With club fees paid for by the taxpayer, government members can enjoy the swimming pool, restaurant, and sauna and steam baths after the rigours of parliament.

And should their muscles ache after a work-out on court, these tennis-playing Italian politicos can also avail themselves — again, at no personal cost — of the services of shiatsu practitioners.

Not that any of Italy’s politicians need expend much energy — or money — in getting around the country. For waiting outside the club are dozens of official chaffeured cars including Maseratis, Porsches, Audis and Mercedes.
Another favourite trick of the rich and privileged is pretending to have received a death threat, which means they qualify for a police escort.

Smoking a cigarette, his tie loosened in the afternoon heat, one government driver shrugged when I asked how long he would have to wait while his passenger relaxed at the club: ‘Who knows? He’s the cat and we’re the mice, so we just keep quiet and do what we’re told.’

The car the chauffeur was leaning against is part of a fleet of 200,000 official state vehicles that can be seen cruising through the choking traffic of Rome, Milan and Turin — not to mention the Italian Riviera during the holiday season.

What’s more, these vehicles — some of them costing £200,000 — can be bought by Italian politicians for a symbolic one euro even if they are voted from office or retire. Government cars are exempt from road tolls, and their drivers are on call round the clock.

Meanwhile, politicians have awarded themselves wage rises averaging 10 per cent a year for at least the past decade, making their pay the highest of any government in the world: at £145,000 a year, they earn twice as much as British MPs, and three times those in Portugal and Spain.

They also receive eye-watering expenses: they can claim for meals at some of Italy’s most sumptuous restaurants, enjoy free business-class flights on state carrier Alitalia, while the taxpayer picks up the bill for their medical treatment, including cosmetic dentistry.
The untouchables? Fat cat politicians in Italy are being blamed for the country’s financial crisis, with the level of money being wasted staggering

The untouchables? Fat cat politicians in Italy are being blamed for the country’s financial crisis, with the level of money being wasted staggering

‘The money is to sort out cavities and bridges for politicians so that they can have a brilliant smile for the television cameras,’ fumed La Republicca, a leading Rome daily newspaper.

It has also been revealed that £257,000 was spent in the past year on psychotherapy for troubled Italian MPs, along with £200,000 on hearing aids, while £1million went on spa treatments and opticians’ fees.

In disclosures that make expenses-fiddling British MPs appear like amateurs, the scale of illegal activities by Italy’s so-called lawmakers were sensationally exposed last month by a disgruntled government official who breached the Mafia-like code of silence over these swindles.

Calling herself ‘Spider Truman’, the employee — believed to be a disgruntled secretary who was dismissed as part of spending cuts after 15 years on a temporary contract — has shocked Italy by her disclosures, prompting calls for Arab Spring-style protests to bring down the government.

With Italy transfixed by the scandal, ‘Spider Truman’ has revealed another favourite trick of the rich and privileged: by pretending to have received a death threat, they qualify for a police escort — helpful for negotiating the traffic during shopping trips and outings to the theatre.

Such is the apparent danger facing Italian MPs and minor local politicians that a staggering 6,000 of them have been granted police protection — costing up to £1bn a year — with police motorcycle outriders stopping traffic to let them through.

Berlusconi used a speech yesterday to say that Italy would not be drawn into the crisis and said Italian banks were ‘solvent’ and its economy ‘solid’

However, most of them are in little or no danger: according to insiders, politicians simply get friends or relatives to call their mobiles and leave a threatening message — enough to secure this gilt-edged perk.

These shocking claims — none of them denied by MPs — come as new figures show that Italy has the highest number of paid elected officials in Europe — one for every 60,000 people, compared with one for every 92,000 in the UK, and one for every 560,747 in the U.S.

Dubbed ‘The Untouchables’ by the Italian media, these corrupt, fat-cat politicians are being blamed for leading the country into financial ruin.

The disclosures could not have come at a worse time. Addressing his parliament yesterday, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi swore that his country would not be drawn into the financial crisis engulfing Europe. In fact, he said, Italy’s banks are ‘solvent’ and the economy is ‘solid’.

But Italy is the Eurozone’s third biggest economy after Germany and France, while the country’s debts are higher than anywhere except Greece. Many predict that if the country were to go bust, the repercussions through Europe could cause a global financial meltdown.

Now Italy hopes desperately that a new austerity package (which will mean anyone attending hospital casualty units will have to pay £25, for example) will help slash the country’s debts of more than £1 trillion, or 120 per cent of GDP. That compares to Greece’s national debt of £220 billion — around 158 per cent of the country’s GDP — and the UK’s debts of £650 billion or 47.2 per cent of GDP.

In southern Italy, a new motorway has so far taken more than 20 years to build because the Mafia demand payment for each mile it runs through their territory.

But any austerity measures will involve changing completely the Italian way. For, like Greece, Italy is a country where tax-dodging is a way of life. Indeed, more than a quarter of the Italian economy goes untaxed, a loss to the state of £120 billion a year.

Meanwhile, the ruthlessness with which Italy has plundered billions from EU schemes to ‘improve’ the country is almost beyond belief.

In one infamous case, a dentist persuaded officials in Brussels to lend him £80m to launch a solar panel business. Instead, he used the money to buy a yellow Ferrari Testarossa, along with 55 other cars and a yacht.

Nationwide incentives to improve work opportunities for the disabled — again backed by millions in EU funds — are widely abused, with an estimated £100m a year lost to fraudulent schemes.

The wife of one Italian politician, who obtained £400,000 from the EU to set up riding stables for the disabled, simply made up the names of her ‘clients’ and pocketed the money.

In southern Italy, a new motorway has so far taken more than 20 years to build because the Mafia demand payment for each mile it runs through their territory.

Officials in Brussels also lost more than £50 million to farmers in southern Italy, for buying and selling surpluses of citrus fruits under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Neither the fruit, nor the farmers, ever existed — a fact that took four years to come to light.

None of this comes as any surprise to Sergio Rizzo, author of The Caste, a bestseller about greed and corruption in Italy’s halls of power: he has catalogued a raft of detail about the way politicians abuse the system with their perks and demands.

He says all politicians’ phone bills are paid by the state, even for personal calls; there is a free hairdressing salon in parliament, where seven barbers are each paid £120,000 a year; there are thousands of fake claims on parliament’s insurance policy for theft and damage, with £1,000 cashmere coats the favourite item to go ‘missing’.

Even in death, politicians in Venice are costing the taxpayer: they have voted that their funeral expenses be paid for by the state.

Loss of office is no hardship either. Full, final salary pensions kick in within 72 hours of their election — and are paid even if the politician leaves office within a year. And what salaries! Even in the provinces, officials can expect to take home hundreds of thousands a year: the mayor of the tiny Alpine province of Bolzano earns an annual salary of £280,000 — that’s £32,000 more than President Obama.

Beyond belief: Eu funds are allegedly widely abused by the Italians with an estimated £100m a year lost to fraudulent claims – including £50m in one infamous case involving fruit that never existed

Beyond belief: Eu funds are allegedly widely abused by the Italians with an estimated £100m a year lost to fraudulent claims – including £50m in one infamous case involving fruit that never existed

‘The attitude and approach of politicians is one of pure arrogance,’ said Rizzo. ‘It’s as if they lived on another planet where humans are those strange objects who pay taxes and allow them to lead a lavish life.’ The tone for this wholesale plundering is being set by Berlusconi — also Italy’s most powerful media mogul — who has been called to appear at court hearings an astonishing 2,500 times over crimes ranging from tax evasion to having sex with an under-age prostitute called Ruby The Heart Stealer.

In many cases, he has either avoided conviction by giving himself immunity from prosecution, or dragging battles through the courts for years in a bid to have them quashed under the statute of limitations — a set amount of time after which it is impossible to begin legal proceedings.

Of course, Berlusconi’s predilections are well-known here, including his penchant for giving glamorous female TV presenters jobs as MPs and holding sex parties at his villa in Sardinia, where girls were (allegedly) told to dress up as nurses and ‘examine’ the 74-year-old premier.

At one time, Italians were willing to overlook these scandals. But public anger is growing. Spider Truman’s website — called The Secrets of the Privileged at Montecitorio (Italian Parliament) — has already attracted more than a quarter of a million followers in less than a week, with thousands expressing outrage.

One subscriber, Camillo Marra, compared the growing Italian anger with the revolts in the Arab world and wrote: ‘Our spring is now arriving,’ while even Italy’s finance minister Giulio Tremonti said action was vital to stop the country sinking ‘like the Titanic’.

As I watched Italy’s politicians relax in the sun at their sports club, with their cars and drivers waiting outside, it was hard not to conclude that being pro-European is the same as being taken for a mug.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: