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Cablegate: The Anti-Corruption and Transparency Service: An

VZCZCXRO5929
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRO #1416/01 3251613
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201613Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1200
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE IMMEDIATE 3307
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN IMMEDIATE 9674
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES IMMEDIATE 3468
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 4695

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 001416

SIPDIS

PARIS FOR USOECD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2018
TAGS: ECON KCOR KJUS PGOV


SUBJECT: THE ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY SERVICE: AN
UNDERWEIGHT ENTRANT IN THE ANTI-CORRUPTION EFFORT

ROME 00001416 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Dibble for reasons 1.4
b and d

1. (C) Summary. Italy abolished its Office of the High
Commissioner Against Corruption in June 2008. The Berlusconi
Government defended the closure as a cost-cutting move, and
said the functions of the office would be subsumed by
another, newly created GOI office, the Anti-Corruption and
Transparency Service. Post recently visited the new office
and came away with the impression that it does not have the
capacity to be a major player in anti-corruption efforts. It
is intended as a ""coordinating hub"", with only analytical and
advisory responsibilities, and has no line authority over
judicial or other relevant law and order institutions. End
summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
BERLUSCONI GOVERNMENT AXES ANTI-CORRUPTION OFFICE, CREATES A
NEW ONE
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (C) Soon after returning to power, Silvio Berlusconi's new
government raised eyebrows by abolishing Italy's Office of
the High Commissioner Against Corruption. This move took
place in the midst of controversial (and eventually
successful) efforts by Berlusconi to secure for himself
immunity from prosecution while in office. Asked then by
EMBOFFS about the closure of his office, Acting High
Commissioner Ermanno Granelli said, ""this is an absurdity
which will not only impair our ability to fight corruption in
ItaQ but will tarnish our image further internationally.""
Granelli implied that the government considered the High
Commissioner Office to be an irritant and that it used budget
cuts as an excuse to eliminate it.

3. (SBU) The abolishment of the High Commissioner Office
caught the attention of OECD officials involved in
implementation of that organization's Qi-bribery
convention. In July 2008 the OECD's Mark Pieth, the
Anti-Bribery Working Group Chair for the past decade, wrote
to the Italian government about ""recent changes to Italy's
criminal legal system, which may have repercussions in the
fight against the bribery of foreign public officials."" In
his letter, Pieth went on to seek ""clarification on why the
Italian Government has taken steps to abolish the office, and
the impact that this may have on Italy's fight against
corruption, including enforcement of the offense of bribing a
foreign public official under the Italian Penal Code."" (Note:
According to Italy's compliance review conducted by the OECD
and published in March 2007, the abolished Commission was not
empowered to pursue cases of foreign bribery falling under
the Anti-Corruption Convention. Nevertheless, Pieth's concern
was well-placed, in that weak efforts against domestic
corruption cannot be expected to lead to stronger measures
abroad. End Comment)

4. (SBU) The GOI has responded to concerns about the
elimination of the High Commissioner Office by stating that
all of the functions of that office would be taken on by a
new organization -- The Anti-corruption and Transparency
Service (SAeT) which has been set up under the GOI's Minister
for Public Administration and Transparency, Renato Brunetta.

-------------------------------------------
EMBASSY VISIT TO NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION OFFICE
-------------------------------------------

5. (C) In an effort to determine if the new organizatiQwill
be effective, ECONOFF recently called on Magistrate Silvio
Bonfigli, Deputy Director of SAeT. SAeT personnel were
helpful, and seemed enthusiastic about their new
responsibilities, but the information they provided calls
into question the ability of SAeT to have a significant
impact on Italy's domestic corruption and ability to adhere
to international committments:

-- Limited advisory role: SAeT's three main activities under
its mandate are mostly analytical and advisory. They include:
1) setting guidelines for the Italian public sector, 2)
monitoring and mapping the risk of corruption within the
public administration, and 3) drafting a national plan
against corruption.

-- Narrow public sector scope: SAeT's anti-corruption
activities only cover the government sector. This narrow
bailiwick excludes even members of Parliament (unless they
perform a public administration role Qa government
institution). Its mandate does not cover Italian private
sector companies either. As for enforcement of the OECD
anti-bribery convention, Bonfigli explained that perhaps his
organization might be able to do something in this areQ but
only if the bribe payer is an Italian parastatal. However, he
warned that this is only SAeT's interpretation of its
mandate; it could be challenged by Italian parastatals who
could claim that they operate in a private sector legal
regime and are thus not subject to SAeT's public sector
scope.

-- Fewer resources: Its staff consists of 15 experts and two
senior directors (vice the 60-person staff of the High
Commissioner).

-- Not much authority: SAeT does not have any supervisory or
oversight authority over any other GOI anti-corruption
institution. SAeT will thus operate as a ""coordinating hub""
and hopes to ""delegate"" a lot of its work to other GOI
institutions (the Carabinieri, customs, the Bank of Italy and
others). Given the storied independence of the Italian
judiciary and the lack of line authority over institutions
with potential anti-corruption mandates, it is difficult to
see SAeT having much of an impact.

-- Less independence than the former High Commissioner
Office: While never very effective, the High Commissioner's
Office appeared to enjoy some independence needed by an
anti-corruption watchdog by virtue of the fact that it was
funded by and reported to Parliament. SAeT, in contrast, has
been placed under a Berlusconi government minister who
reports to the Prime Minister. SAeT has no independent
funding.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
COMMENT: SAeT UNLIKELY TO PUT A DENT IN ITALIAN CORRUPTION
--------------------------------------------- --------------

6. (C) In our work with the High Commissioner's Office, we
had found that organization to be well-intentioned but
largely ineffective. We went to SAeT hoping to find the
beginnings of an organization that might be able to take
effective action on Italy's pervasive corruption problem.
There was some reason for hope: Minister Brunetta, under whom
SAeT is operating, is by far the most energetic and
aQessive of the GOI's reformers. Our visit to SAeT,
however, left us disappointed. Because of its reduced level
of independence, smaller size, and more circumscribed
bailiwick, we think SAeT is likely to prove even less
effective than the organization that it replaced.
SPOGLI

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