Italian junior Minister resigns over free hotel stays

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 01:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ROME (Reuters): A junior Minister in Italy’s technocrat government, Carlo Malinconico, resigned on Tuesday over allegations that he had accepted free hotel stays in 2007 and 2008.

Malinconico quit following days of newspaper reports that when he was chief-of-staff in a previous government his bills for several private stays at a Tuscan resort were paid by two men later caught up in a corruption investigation.

He denied any wrongdoing but said he was resigning to be able to defend his own conduct better and to protect the credibility of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s Government.

The 61-year-old Malinconico has said that when he left the hotel on the southern Tuscan coast, he was told the bills were taken care of, but he did not know who had paid them.

Malinconico, an undersecretary whose portfolio covered the newspaper and publishing industries, said he had tried to pay the bills but was not allowed. He later cancelled reservations for future stays at the hotel.

It was later discovered that the bills were paid for by Francesco de Vito Piscicelli, a construction company owner, and Angelo Balducci, an engineer who was a board member of Italy’s public works department.

Both were arrested on charges of corruption involving public works contracts and Balducci, who was a ceremonial usher at the Vatican, was also caught up in an investigation of a gay prostitution ring in 2010.

Malinconico, who has not been charged with any crime and has said he did not do any favours for anyone while he was in the previous government, was the first member of Monti’s team to step down since the Government was formed on 16 November.

Newspapers and various politicians have said Malinconico’s resignation was necessary for the credibility of the Government led by Monti, who has promised total transparency.