League leader 'kept grip' books, Senator tells prosecutors

Maroni followed party funds personally, says Stiffoni

League leader 'kept grip' books, Senator tells prosecutors

Rome, February 5 - A Northern League Senator told Rome prosecutors investigating a financial scandal that the party's leader Roberto Maroni personally followed the procedures for the use of the group's funding. Piergiorgio Stiffoni said that Maroni made it his "practice not to communicate year-end numbers" to other party members. Maroni, as the League's whip in the House in 2006, "believed that the management (of party books) was up to him," Stiffoni told investigators during questioning last November. Stiffoni, who had a role in party administration, has been under investigation for more than a year as prosecutors probed the illegal use of party funds. He was charged with embezzlement in January. Investigators are further probing transferred party funds to personal accounts resulting in the alleged misappropriation of more than 955,000 euros. Investigators had previously accused members of the scandal-hit Northern League of using public party funds to buy diamonds worth 400,000 euros and gold bullion worth 200,000 euros. The accusations were part of an investigation into former League treasurer Francesco Belsito for allegedly channelling public funds to the family of ex-leader Umberto Bossi, who stepped down at the beginning of April 2012. Belsito is accused of buying the jewels along with former Senate deputy speaker Rosy Mauro, expelled from the party in April, and Stiffoni. Probes were also launched into Northern League activities by investigators in Milan, Naples, Reggio Calabria, Reggio Emilia, and Genoa. Photo: Piergiorgio Stiffoni

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