Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mr Prodi: guru or godfather?

by Domenico Pacitti

'Mr Prodi has as much chance of being morally upright and free of corruption as he has of being fully immersed in the nearby River Po and stepping out bone dry.'

DOMENICO PACITTI

'Entrusting Mr Prodi with the presidency of the European Commission is tantamount to entrusting the running of a brewery to a chronic alcoholic, the operation of a casino to an inveterate gambler or the governorship of the Bank of England to the Sicilian mafia.'

DOMENICO PACITTI

"Mr Prodi began to make his presence felt in 1982 when the Christian Democrat leader, Ciriaco De Mita, another former prime minister who later faced allegations of corruption, placed him at the head of Italy's mammoth state holding company, IRI (the Industrial Reconstruction Institute). When it was decided that he had failed to fulfil his brief of reducing patronage, inefficiency and waste, Mr Prodi was sacked but reinstated again for one year in 1993. During his premiership in 1996, a public prosecutor who accused him of abuse of office and criminal offences in connection with exploiting the privatisation of public companies for personal gain while chairman of IRI was suddenly transferred without explanation.

The chief private company involved was an economic research centre, appropriately named Nomisma (numismatics, or coin collecting), which Mr Prodi founded in his home town of Bologna and ran together with some one hundred shareholders. Mr Prodi's company, which the centre-right national daily newspaper Il Giornale called "a sort of mafia cosca clan", secured numerous contracts from the Emilia regional council in record time to produce study reports on topics such as public holidays (£86,000), the state of research and innovation (£70,000) and the economic impact of the Italian army (£48,000). Although these and similar studies are said to have been either plagiarised or simply thrown together, several were readily purchased by the Bologna provincial council, which just happened to be chaired by Vittorio Prodi, Mr Prodi's brother, who in turn commissioned a Church history of Bologna (£80,000) from another of Mr Prodi's brothers, Paolo Prodi, a university professor.

Another of Nomisma's clients, the Tobacco Documentation and Information Centre, had previously been created at the behest of the Philip Morris company, which subsequently signed lucrative contracts with the Italian Finance Ministry for the production and sales of cigarettes in Italy. Mr Prodi's wife too, Flavia Franzoni, is reported to have performed remunerative part-time work providing study reports for public institutions (£140,000). She is also said to have benefited from a deal which privatised a former school for social assistants.

But Nomisma's biggest single killing was a piece of research on high speed carried out for the national railways. Netting a cool £4 million and working out at over £2 per word, it carried such gems as "The advantage of high speed is speed", "Speed is greatly appreciated because it saves time", "Preference for the train is inversely proportionate to distance from the station: those who live closest to the station use the train more readily" and "The market value of a flat whose view across a bay is blocked by an eight-lane flyover inevitably falls".

A recently published book which courageously names names - always a perilous practice in Italy - places Mr Prodi's Bologna mafia high among the country's major power groups. Should a new law be approved, says its author, Bologna will as European capital of culture for the year 2000 receive £33 million - £9 million in the first three years and £24 million over the next twenty years - in order to encourage restoration work, which would leave the Prodi family laughing all the way to the bank.

It is an open secret that Mr Prodi obtained his professorship at the University of Bologna, again, through Church recommendations, thus forcing a potentially more deserving candidate to wait up to ten years under the present system for another opportunity, change career or attempt entry through the usual corrupt means depending on his or her level of moral integrity. It is sadly indicative though hardly surprising that in the course of his 25 years of teaching economics and industrial policy at Bologna, Mr Prodi never once spoke out against Italy's universities, one of the country's most criticised mafias, sometimes said to merit the title of universities only by courtesy and arguably the most grotesquely corrupt in the civilised world.


continues here

Domenico Pacitti is Editor of JUST Response. He has written over 400 articles against corruption in Italy. He has taught philosophy, linguistics and Chinese at universities in the UK and Italy and currently teaches English language and American literature at the University of Pisa.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enzo, un saluto. E ogni tanto posta qualcosa in italiano.

Mr.Abdul

7:48 PM  
Blogger The Doc said...

Ciao caro Abdul...hai ragione. Lo faro'...
Un saluto sincero.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

Fido della sua opinione, Enzo. Dopo che tutto il, lei è il mio difensore ed il mio campione.

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Blogger The Doc said...

How did you do that? You, clever girl!

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I'm a genius! Not really, I found a 'translation site'. I will send it to you...

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