Thursday, September 10, 2009

How it works in Italy

You're a businessman seeking government contracts. Competing on the open market is too much of a hassle, and you want some way of getting the "inside track" so your bids will be looked at first.

No problem. Just supply the Prime Minister with a few girls, and he'll make the necessary introductions:

The businessman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, said his aim was to win favours from those in power. "I wanted to get to know prime minister Berlusconi and to that end I incurred significant expense to enter into his confidence," he was quoted as saying. "Knowing of his interest in the female sex, what I did was to take girls to see him, introducing them as friends of mine and concealing from him that sometimes I paid them."

The standard rate for staying on at Palazzo Grazioli, Berlusconi's residence in the centre of Rome, was €1,000. Otherwise, the women were merely paid expenses.

Tarantini claims to have provided 30 "companions" to Berlusconi over a five month period. In exchange, he got the introduction he wanted - but nothing came of it. I guess that's why he has come forward: he didn't get what "he" paid for.

This is how politics and business works in Italy. Time for a serious cleanup.