Argentinian Fifa suspect held in Italy

UPDATED - Italian police said Tuesday that Argentinian businessman Alejandro Burzaco, who has been indicted by US authorities in the Fifa corruption scandal, has turned himself in.

Argentinian Fifa suspect held in Italy
Argentinian businessman Alejandro Burzaco has been indicted by US authorities in the Fifa corruption scandal. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Burzaco, 50, was being held in Bolzano, near Italy's northern border with Switzerland after turning up at a police station with his lawyers. He was being held pending a hearing later in the day on whether he is
formally arrested.

Burzaco's whereabouts have been a mystery since seven Fifa executives were arrested in Zurich on the eve of a Fifa Congress last week.

According to reports, Burzaco was in the hotel where the executives werecuffed and promptly disappeared in the knowledge he was likely to be on the indicted list.

Burzaco was wanted by the US authorities in connection with his role as president of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias. He is suspected of irregularitites in the attribution of television rights for football tournaments in Latin America.

The Torneos y Competencias company held the television rights for theArgentinian league between 1992-2009 and in association with Aaron Davidson, the president of Traffic Sports USA arested in Zurich, and Full Play — owned by two fugitive Argentinians Mariano and Hugo Jinkis — hold the rights for the Copa America which kicks off in Chile next month.

Around 14 current or former Fifa officials and sports marketing executives are accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million in bribes.

The revelations have thrown the world of football into turmoil and led to the resignation of long-serving Fifa president Sepp Blatter last week, just four days after his re-election for a fifth successive term.

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Genoa reconstruction at risk of mafia infiltration: Italy’s anti-corruption chief

The head of Italy’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ANAC), Raffaele Cantone, warned on Wednesday of the potential for the mafia to infiltrate the reconstruction of Genoa’s Morandi bridge.

Genoa reconstruction at risk of mafia infiltration: Italy’s anti-corruption chief
Screenshot of Raffaele Cantone speaking at a parliamentary hearing on the Genoa Decree on October 10, 2018.

Speaking at a parliamentary hearing to discuss amendments to the newly released “Genoa decree” which will govern the area’s reconstruction, Cantone raised concerns that the decree contains “unprecedented” provisions which allow Genoa’s newly-appointed reconstruction commissioner, Marco Bucci, to bypass Italian civil laws and “to act with absolute and total freedom, subject only to the mandatory principles of the European Union and of course the principals of the constitution”.

In particular, the ANAC chief expressed consternation at the fact that the decree exempts the commissioner from having to follow Italy’s Anti-Mafia Code, highlighting that this presents a “concrete risk” that the mafia could extend its tentacles into the reconstruction efforts.

Cantone added that although the mafia is not widely present in the Liguria region in Italy’s north where Genoa is based, they are attempting to expand into the territory, and construction is one of the industries on which they are known to have a tight grip.

READ ALSO: Genoa bridge collapse: The mafia's role

The Morandi motorway viaduct collapsed during a storm on August 14th, plunging 150 feet into the ground and sending 43 people to their deaths.

The ultimate cause of the collapse is still undetermined pending the conclusion of a state investigation, but the bridge’s operator, Autostrade per l’Italia, has fallen under heavy suspicion, while others have raised the question of whether the mafia was involved in the bridge’s initial construction.

The bridge was built out of reinforced concrete during Italy’s post-war reconstruction boom in the 1960’s, a time when mafia infiltration of the construction sector was rampant.

Rescuers at work amid rubble and wreckage after the collapse of a section of the Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa on August 15, 2018. Handout / Vigili del Fuoco / AFP.

A common practice during the period was to mix large quantities of cheap sand and water into the concrete with comparatively small amounts of cement, significantly weakening the raw construction materials.

Speaking on the political TV talk show Agorà, Italy’s far right interior minister and co-deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini said he broadly agreed with Cantone’s concerns about mafia infiltration, but that he disagreed with his fears over the extraordinary powers granted to Bucci.

“Exceptional interventions are need to match an exceptional event: if you follow the Procurement Code, bureaucracy, and the European tender rules, we’ll still be discussing the bridge in five years’ time,” the minister said.