di Francesco Musolino
Rome, July 15 - Remarks made by the government-appointed commissioner of the embattled Italian steel company ILVA, Enrico Bondi, sparked furor on Monday and prompted Italian Environment Minister Andrea Orlando to summon him for clarification. The turnaround guru picked to guide the steel company, which is accused of causing an environmental disaster in Taranto, said the southern Italian port city's cancer problems are mainly due to the city's high rates of smoking and alcohol consumption. Orlando summoned Bondi to appear Monday for ''clarification'' and is also choosing three new experts to oversee clean-up and rehabilitation of the Taranto steel plant, to be appointed by ministerial decree. ILVA has faced enormous problems in the past year, most recently with a decision by the Italian government to appoint a commissioner to take over management of the company's ill-fated Taranto steel plant in southern Italy. Enrico Bondi's job as commissioner is to remediate and revamp the plant - the largest in Europe - located in southern Italy. ILVA has been at the centre of a political and legal battle since last July when local magistrates ordered the partial closure of the Taranto plant due to serious health concerns. The Riva group, which owns the ILVA steel plant, is the biggest iron and steel producer in Italy, the fourth-biggest in Europe and the 23rd-biggest in the world. Earlier this month, prosecutors asked the courts to indict Emilio Riva, ILVA's former head, on charges of massive tax fraud. Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco accused Riva, and two other former executives of the steelmaker, of evading 52 million euros in taxes dating back to 2007. A London-based executive with Deutsche Bank was also named by the prosecution for assisting in the alleged fraud. Emilio and Adriano Riva, owners of the Riva group, have been under investigation for fraud against the State and fake money transfers. Some 1.2 billion euros transferred out of Italy by the Rivas were previously confiscated. In January, ILVA executive and family member Fabio Riva was arrested in London after two months on the run. Taranto prosecutors had issued a European arrest warrant for Fabio Riva, the deputy chairman of parent-company Riva, last December saying that he was sought as part of a criminal probe into the environmental scandal at the facility.