Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Tragic but History of Italy Made Drama So Predictable

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Tragic but History of Italy Made Drama So Predictable

Article excerpt

Byline: COMMENTARY Jim Armitage City Editor

WHEN BT decided to plunge into Italy by buying a company from Silvio Berlusconi, who could have guessed anything could go wrong? But, shock, horror, BT's Italia adventure has resulted in anything but la dolce vita. Staff have been caught allegedly colluding with clients to pad invoices. And when they weren't doing that, they were apparently using cash held off the balance sheet to boost their profits artificially. Serious, mucky stuff apparently done by multiple employees with the help of several clients over a period of years.

One of the tragedies of Europe is that its most beautiful country is also its most corrupt. Like the decay in the architecture of the cities we love to visit, graft and kickbacks seem ingrained in its very fabric. Transparency International ranks Italy the 64th most corrupt country out of 167, down there with Lesotho and Senegal. The nearest major EU country is as far up the table from Italy as Milan from Palermo.

Some of us hoped the Parmalat scandal -- Europe's Enron -- in 2003 would shock the country into action. But, if anything, corruption has got worse. The result: from 2005 and 2010, Italy attracted foreign direct investment of just 1. …

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