(see previous) Ferrara, May 26 - A police report Monday said Former environment minister Corrado Clini, under house arrest on graft charges, misappropriated 3.4 million euros in public funds for a water treatment project in Iraq. Police placed the 67-year-old under arrest earlier Monday along with Padua engineer Augusto Calore Pretner for alleged graft. According to the report, the pair skimmed the money from 54 million euros in environment ministry funds for The New Eden Project, a joint Iraqi-Italian initiative to restore marshlands in the Tigris and Euphrates basin. The investigation was sparked last summer after police spotted a series of false invoices from Dutch company GBC for payments to engineering firm Med Ingegneria Srl, based in the northern Italian city of Ferrara. Police said Med Ingegneria belonged to a consortium called Nature Iraq, of which Pretner's Padua-based Studio Galli Ingegneria was also a member. With the help of Dutch investigators and EU authorities, Italian police charged five suspects at the time in the fraud estimated at 1.5 million euros and confiscated 330,000 euros. Clini, a senior research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, was later interrogated last October as part of the investigation. At the time he was director-general of the environment ministry, a position he had held before joining the government of former premier Mario Monti in November 2011, and one he resumed after the government was replaced in April 2013. His time in office was marked by his handling of the environmental disaster surrounding the fatal January 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the remains of which still rest off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio.
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