German-born minister and former Olympic medallist Josefa Idem, who joined Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s cabinet in April, has been accused of evading property tax for four years.
The allegations concern the minister’s two properties in Ravenna in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, where she lives with her husband and two children and has previously served as a city councillor.
According to reports in La Stampa newspaper, Idem claimed one of her properties, a commercial gym, was her principal residence until February 4th 2013, while her husband claimed to be the sole owner of their shared family home.
The discrepancy was raised after local authorities in Ravenna carried out an inspection on June 11th, the paper said.
“On the ground floor, the rooms indicated as ‘equipment room’, ‘living room’, ‘study’ and ‘bathroom’ with an adjoining changing room were all at the service of the gym called ‘Ja Jo Gym',” La Stampa quoted them as saying.
The paper adds that images from Google Street View suggest that the gym has been active from at least 2008.
Yesterday, the far-right anti-immigration Northern League party called for the minister’s resignation after presenting a motion of no confidence.
Nicola Morra, the new head of the Five Star Movement (M5S) in the Italian Senate raised a point of order requesting an explanation from the minister, but the minister refused to comment, referring to her lawyer Luca Di Raimondo.
“I’ve given all the paperwork to my lawyers, who will explain everything. Any other statement could be wrongly interpreted,” La Stampa newspaper quoted Idem as saying.
Idem, 48, who is an open supporter of gay rights, also hit national headlines last week when she and her colleague Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies, became the first Italian ministers to march for Gay Pride at the national parade in Palermo, Sicily, on Saturday.