Bolzano

Bolzano provincial president in embezzlement probe

Durnwalder suspected of misusing 72,000-euro private fund

Bolzano provincial president in embezzlement probe

Bolzano, October 23 - The Bolzano prosecutor's office on Tuesday opened an investigation into the president of the autonomous province of Bolzano, Luis Durnwalder, for alleged embezzlement in connection with his use of a personal fund. The probe follows initial investigations by the regional prosecutor of Italy's Audit Court into the management of the South Tyrolean president's annual allowance of 72,000 euros in light of reports concerning a birthday party held by the representative of the South Tyrol People's Party (SVP) last year. ''The fund can be used at the discretion of the president according to criteria that he doesn't have to answer to,'' said the prosecutor, Robert Schuelmers. ''However it is clear that, being public money, it must be used within the scope of his institutional activity''. Schuelmers said instead there was evidence to suggest the fund had been used to cover personal expenses such as medical treatments, dental check-ups and flights, ''even though it seems Durnwalder paid back part of what had been taken at the end of each month''. Durnwalder has denied the allegations. ''I have never paid for or even advanced the money for my personal expenses from my reserved fund,'' he told a press conference. ''On the contrary: I advance the money for donations and expenses out of my own pocket and am then reimbursed''. The Bolzano probe is just the latest in a series of investigations involving the alleged misuse of public funds in numerous Italian regions, including Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.

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