Anti-corruption authority accuses Rome mayor of contradictions

ANAC says Raggi aware of Marra conflict of interests.

Italy's anti-corruption authority (ANAC) accuses Rome mayor Virginia Raggi of being "aware of the obvious conflict of interests" when her former right-hand man and head of city personnel Raffaele Marra promoted his brother Renato to the highly-paid post of leading the capital's tourism department.

There are also "contradictions" in the mayor's account of how Marra's brother was appointed to the post, according to ANAC, which is headed by magistrate Raffaele Cantone.

The anti-corruption authority's report, which questions whether Marra played a "merely formal" or "direct" role in his brother's appointment, has been sent to the Rome prosecutor's office.

Raffaele Marra was arrested in mid December, along with major property developer Sergio Scarpellini, as part of an investigation into real-esate corruption. Scarpellini is suspected of bribing Marra in exchange for favours – with two cheques totalling €367,000 – which Marra's wife allegedly cashed to purchase an apartment in north Rome.

Marra, a former head of housing policy under former mayor Gianni Alemanno, is considered a controversial figure within Raggi’s anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S).

Scarpellini, who receives an annual rent of some €14 million from the Comune di Roma, claims the money given to Marra was a loan, which he still hoped would be paid back one day. However, when pressed by prosecutors for the reason he gave Marra the money, the entrepreneur said: “I had a lot of [business] activities in the capital and I didn't want him to judge them in a negative light. He was an influential character and I feared that if I had refused [the money] there would have been consequences.”

Brushing aside media speculation that she was being blackmailed by her powerful former head of personnel, Raggi told reporters on 21 December that she has nothing to fear about what Marra or her former chief of staff Carla Rainieri had to say.

Raineri stood down from her €193,000 city post on 1 September after a report by ANAC ruled that her nomination was improper. Four other senior city figures resigned the same day including Raggi's budget councillor as well as top managers of transport company ATAC and the head of AMA Roma. The mass resignations took place less than two months after Raggi took office as mayor.

In mid-December Raggi's environment councillor Paola Muraro stood down due to an investigation into alleged environment crimes. The departure of Muraro, for 12 years a consultant with the capital’s waste management company AMA Roma, came after months of pressure to go over accusations of alleged conflicts of interest.

Muraro's resignation was followed by the arrest of Marra, on suspicion of corruption, at which point M5S leader Beppe Grillo stepped in to take control of the spiralling situation in the capital. Allowing Raggi to stay on as mayor, so long as she didn't make “any important decisions, such as nominations”, Grillo set about reshuffling the mayor's cabinet.

On 20 December Raggi's 2017-2019 budget was rejected by the city’s independent auditing body, the Organo di Revisione Economico-Finanziaria (OREF), which said the figures did not add up.

The continuing string of scandals has proved deeply damaging to the populist M5S which prides itself on being the “clean” alternative to mainstream Italian political parties.