18 February 2013, 16:01

‘Bribes are necessary’ - Berlusconi

‘Bribes are necessary’ - Berlusconi

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has shocked the Italian media with his views on bribery and their necessity in doing business in Third World markets. The Italian political scene has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals, while the ongoing election campaign adds to the intensity of the media inquiries in the unsavory business practices of former allies of Berlusconi.

Among the targets of the latest anti-corruption campaign are the chief executive officers of Finmeccanica and Eni. It seems that Silvio Berlusconi felt the need to defend them, telling the Financial Times correspondent:

“Bribes are a phenomenon that exist and it’s useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes”

The former Italian primer minister also tried to explain that bribing government officials is basically an unavoidable part of doing business and that Giuseppe Orsi (former head of Finemeccanica) and Paolo Scaroni (former head of Eni) were actually paying “commissions”. Finmeccanica and Eni are Italian companies where the Italian government has significant stakes; therefore the bribes paid by those companies are often linked to the corrupt practices of government officials. Both former CEOs have denied any wrongdoing but it is unknown whether they appreciate such a form of public defense from Silvio Berlusconi, a politician who had been heavily involved in corruption scandals.

Berlusconi’s political enemies have used the possibility to criticize him for “supporting corruption”, while current Prime Minister Mario Monti has stressed that his government has taken unprecedented measures to root out corruption. Given the fact that Mario Monti is a former employee of Goldman Sachs (a bank which has been often accused of corrupting government officials across the world), it is safe to assume that both sides of the Italian political spectrum lack anti-corruption credentials.

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