Mayoral offices in Milan and Rome come under investigation

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 16, 2016 5:57 AM

MILAN (Reuters) - The governments of Italy's two biggest cities came under judicial scrutiny on Friday, with Milan's mayor suspending himself from his duties and a top aide in Rome's administration put under arrest.

Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala said late on Thursday he had learned from the media that he was under investigation in a case involving tender bids at last year's Expo world fair.

"While I have not the slightest idea of the investigative allegations, I have decided to suspend myself from my position as mayor," Sala said, six months after taking over Milan city hall.

In Rome, a judicial source said an aide to mayor Virginia Raggi of the 5-Star Movement was arrested on Friday on suspicion of corruption linked to a 2013 real estate deal.

The current administration is not implicated, the source said, but the arrest of Raffaele Marra is the latest in a series of headaches for Raggi.

Sala, who was backed by the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to become mayor of Italy's financial capital, was in charge of Expo Milan 2015.

Preparations for the event were blighted by a corruption scandal which led to the arrest of several top officials in 2014, laying bare the spread of mafia groups from their traditional southern fiefdoms to the wealthier north.

Raggi has been beset by resignations and infighting since winning the June election, when 5-Star took on its biggest challenge yet as managers of the corruption-tainted capital.

Raggi, whose party campaigns on promises to break with an establishment widely seen as corrupt, had originally named Marra chief of staff before moving him to a human resources role.

Carabinieri police searched his office on Friday morning, the source said, the day after seizing documents relating to the hiring process in the city administration. Reuters was unable to reach Raggi's office for comment.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Isla Binnie; Editing by Andrew Roche)