Assets worth 1.3 million seized from Fiorito

PdL's former Lazio caucus head accused of embezzlement

Assets worth 1.3 million seized from Fiorito

(ANSA) - Rome, October 4 - Prosecutors on Thursday seized more than 1.3 million euros' worth of assets from Franco Fiorito, the disgraced former caucus chief in the Lazio region of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. Investigators looking into allegations Fiorito embezzled public money have said that roughly this amount of party money - 1.38 million euros - was diverted by Fiorito into accounts in his name. A seaside villa, a jeep, a BMW, a Smart car, seven Italian bank accounts and four foreign bank accounts were among the assets seized. Fiorito was arrested and taken to prison on Tuesday after a judge agreed with prosecutors that there was a risk he could reoffend or tamper with evidence. He denies any wrongdoing. "I shout my innocence loud and clear," Fiorito told ANSA via telephone. The case, which exploded when Fiorito was put under investigation earlier this month, caused the PdL's Renata Polverini to step down as governor of Lazio last week. The scandal is seen by many as a threat to the centre-right PdL's chances of maintaining its position as the biggest party in parliament in next year's general elections. Ex-premier Berlusconi's party currently trails far behind the main centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in the polls. This investigation is only one of a series of recent corruption scandals that have hit various parts of Italy's political spectrum, sparking condemnation from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the Catholic Church. Experts say the scandals have also strengthened widespread public disaffection with the nation's political class and contributed to the rise of comedian Beppe Grillo's grassroots Five Star movement, which is opposed to the present party system. The Five Star movement is vying with the PdL for second place in the polls, according to several surveys.

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