Vincenzo Scotti is a household name in Italy. A former Christian-Democrat foreign minister before the Tangentopoli (“bribesville”) scandal that spelt the end of Italy’s ‘first republic’, he is now a candidate for the Movement for the Autonomy of the South, allied to Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party.
He is also the president of the University of Malta’s Link Campus, the Italian branch of university founded in 1999 as the first foreign higher education institute to operate in Italy.
At 74, Scotti has been ordered by a Lazio court to pay back the hefty sum of €2,995 million over a sum issued by the government for a property acquired for the Italian secret services Sisde.
Also implicated were the former anti-racket chief Raffaele Lauro, Sisde chief Alessandro Voci, who died at 80 earlier this year, and his deputy Fausto Gianni.
The case goes back to 1992, when Scotti was home affairs minister. It was decided to buy a Rome property to serve as the headquarters for Sisde. The price was fixed at 25,470 million Italian lire – a disproportionate price according to the Lazio court, when the property was valued at between 9 and 13,500 million lire.
The court also said the property was hampered by urban and environmental restrictions that had made it impossible for use by the secret services in the first place.
Scandal broke out when the discrepancy in the value for the property was revealed, but the government had already paid the money into the account of the Baia Paraelios hotel of architect Adolfo Salabè – himself implicated in black funds received through Sisde into a company that served as a front for the activities of both the domestic and the military secret services Sismi.
Scotti was reported by Italian publication L’Espresso for having opened legal procedures against the Baia Paraelios to recoup the money, but the Lazio court says the company has “too modest a wealth” to pay off the damages, which is why it called on Scotti, Lauro and the two secret services chiefs to pay up.
Scotti was also Italian foreign minister for a month in 1992, prior to the tangentopoli scandal, and was the political deputy secretary of the Italian DC between 1984 to 1989, as well as Naples mayor and the founding minister of Italy’s anti-mafia investigative unit. He resigned as minister in 1992.
He has previously written to MaltaToday defending the Link Campus from association with Sergio Billé, who was president of Confcommercio, Italy’s largest entrepreneurial organisation, and president of the Association Friends of the Link Campus between 1999 and 2000. Billé had resigned from Confcommercio after being put under investigation by the Italian Guardia di Finanza over allegations of financial misappropriation.