Luigi De Fanis, a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, and his secretary Lucia Zigarello were put under house arrest in the city of Pescara on Tuesday.
The councillor allegedly instigated bribes from local businessmen in exchange for granting state funds, using the Abruzzo Antico cultural association as a cover-up, La Repubblica reported.
“De Fanis has proven he is committed to exploiting his position for illegal means, arranging complex strategies within the administration to do so,” investigators told the newspaper.
The scheme was unravelled when one of the businessmen reported the councillor to the police, who claimed to have been “shocked” by De Fanis’ suggestion that the regional budget could be tampered with for a fee.
The investigation has focused particularly on cultural events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gabriele D'Annunzio, an Italian writer, earlier this year. Additionally, the Regional Agency for the Promotion of Culture in Sulmona is also under investigation along with businesses in the region.
When not arranging corrupt contracts, De Fanis allegedly used regional funds for his own pleasure, such as paying for bottles of champagne or hotel bills, La Repubblica said.
With the councillor and his secretary under house arrest, 50 police officers are now carrying out searches across the region.