League party funds can be permanently seized: Italian court

Genova,  Some 49 million euros of funds can be confiscated from Italy’s far-right League Party after its former leaders including party founder Umberto Bossi were convicted last year in a vast fraud case, a court in Genoa ruled on Thursday.

The Genoa review commission ordered the permanent and final seizure of all bank accounts linked to the party because the funds were unaccounted for in part ledgers.

The League is not thought to have enough reserves to pay the 48.9 million euros of funds from its accounts and businesses belonging to the party and can appeal against each single asset seizure.

League lawyers insist the party currently has only 5.5 million euros, which come from donations, and that they might take the case back to Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation. Other funds may have been shifted abroad to avoid seizure, according to judicial sources.

There were 41,868 euros of League funds deposited in banks according to the party’s 2017 accounts which Adnkronos has seen. However, the ‘League for Salvini’ movement created by party leader Matteo Salvini had 30,431 euros of reserves.

Salvini, who is Italy’s Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, on Thursday appeared unfazed by the Genoa court ruling.

“I’m not upset at all because the case concerns things that happened eight or nine years ago. It’s an affair from the past,” he told reporters.

“If they want to take everything from us, they can go ahead. We’ll have no trouble staying in politics because the Italian people are with us.”

Salvini is said to be mulling a change to the party’s name to avoid the permanent seizure of its funds, according to sources close to the League.

High-ranking League member Giancarlo Giorgetti claimed last week that the confiscation of League funds would finish off the party, which currently governs Italy in coalition with the populist Five-Star Movement.

Bossi, his son Renzo and former treasurer Francesco Belsito were convicted in July 2017 of fraudulently obtaining the 49 million euros of state funds for the then Northern League.

A lower court found the trio guilty of embezzling hundreds of thousands of euros of the public funds in 2008-10 for their personal use.

The Bossis and Belsito were handed jail terms and fined and the League was ordered to repay close to 49 million euros of state financing that it had received.