Rome

M5S paid back over 23 mn in salaries - Di Maio (5)

Alleged pledge-cheating furore 'boomerang' - premier candidate

M5S paid back over 23 mn in salaries - Di Maio  (5)

Rome, February 14 - 5-Star Movement (M5S) premier candidate Luigi Di Maio said Wednesday that elected officials for the anti-establishment group have paid over 23 million euros into a government fund for microcredit to businesses. He was commenting amid a furore over allegations some M5S lawmakers had cheated over pledges to pay back part of their salaries. Di Maio has admitted that a handful of M5S lawmakers had not respected the internal M5S regulations on salary repayments, but stressed they are a small minority and has vowed to get rid of the "bad apples". The M5S leader said later there were eight members who had arrears and would be kicked out, having "ruled themselves out" of the movement. He said that the total of missing back payments was "almost 800,000 euros", rectifying earlier reports that it could have been as much as one and a half million. "The total is 795,000 euros," he said. "From the checks we have made, Ivan Della Valle did not donate around 270,000 euros, Girolamo Pisano did not donate 200,000, Maurizio Buccarella 137,000 euro, Carlo Martelli did not donate 81,000 euros, Elisa Bulgarelli did not donate 43,000 euros, Andrea Cecconi around 28,000, Silvia Benedetti 23,000, and Emanuele Cozzolino around 13,000 euros". But he now said "it will be the week of M5S pride, we will show all the bank transfers we have made". Earlier, Di Maio said on his way out of the economy ministry, where he has asked for a statement on the M5S back payments: "There are 23.468 million euros in the fund, today you can all see it". "We'll flaunt this figure everywhere over the next few days. "This case will be a boomerang for the parties who have stolen from the citizens for years. "There will be several Restitution Days during the election campaign". Di Maio admitted that it had been mistake to trust all the lawmakers for the anti-establishment group to respect a pledge to pay back part of their salaries. But he said he would remedy the situation and promised that a list of pledge-cheats would be shown "today". "I was wrong to trust the human being," Di Maio said. "But there is time to fix things. These people have been kicked out". The back-payment-pledge furore is embarrassing for the M5S, which prides itself on its "honesty".

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