Fraud arrests prompt ‘save the Expo’ summit

Italy rushed on Monday to play down an embarrassing scandal linked to the 2015 world fair exhibition in Milan, after the arrest of several top managers for suspected fraud.

Fraud arrests prompt 'save the Expo' summit
The Expo will be held from May 1st to October 31st 2015. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

The economic capital held a "save the Expo" summit following the arrests last week of eight people accused of bid rigging, awarding contracts without invitation to tender and falsifying documents.

"We have not lost a minute," Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia told journalists at the end of the emergency meeting, insisting the scandals "have been overcome".

"We're not starting again, we're picking up where we left off and tightening up the project," he said, while Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said the government "will do everything possible to make sure the deadlines are respected".

The Expo, which will look at the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" from economic, scientific and cultural perspectives, will be held from May 1st to October 31st 2015.

The government has pledged to invest €1.5 billion in the project.

Delays in the construction of the immense site in the suburbs of Milan have already drawn criticism.

Italy's new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is expected to travel to Milan at the start of April to show his support for the project, which the government hopes will mark the beginning of a new era of growth and prosperity in the eurozone's third largest economy, hit hard by a two-year recession.

Some 145 countries have announced they will be taking part in the Expo so far.

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Romanian billionaire and seven others die in Milan plane crash

A light aircraft piloted by Romanian billionaire Dan Petrescu crashed into an empty office building near Milan on Sunday, killing him, his wife and son, and all five others aboard.

Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato.
Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato on October 3rd. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 had taken off from Milan’s Linate airport shortly after 1pm headed for Olbia in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia.

It crashed just a few minutes later into a building in San Donato Milanese, a town southeast of Milan, according to aviation agency ANSV, which has opened an investigation.

Witnesses said the plane was already in flames before it crashed into an office building undergoing renovations.

Petrescu’s 65-year-old wife, who also had French nationality, and their son Dan Stefano, 30, were killed.

Italian media identified the other passengers as entrepreneur Filippo Nascimbene, a 33-year-old from Lombardy, with his wife, young son and mother-in-law, who have French nationality.

Petrescu, 68, was one of Romania’s richest men. He headed a major construction firm and owned a string of hypermarkets and malls. He also held Germany nationality, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Flames engulfed the two-storey building, next to the yellow line subway terminus.

“The impact was devastating,” Carlo Cardinali, of the Milan fire brigade, told news agency Ansa.

Deputy prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano was quoted by Corriere as saying that the plane’s black box had been recovered.