ITALY HIGHWAYS ALERT: FALSE REPORTS FOR DANGEROUS BRIDGES, 3 ARRESTS
House detention for manager of two firms
charged with security dossier manipulations
despite 85 deaths in three viaductc’s disaster
Collapse in the italian stock market for Atlantia
shareholded by many american funds
The CEO resigns but obtains legal defense
___di Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio ___
The quiet after the storm. The title of a poem by Giacomo Leopardi is ideal to define the stock calm recaptured by the Atlantia share after the arrests of some executives in the subsidiary companies Autostrade per l’Italia (Motorways for Italy) and Spea. Giovanni Castellucci resigned as CEO and general manager of Atlantia this week. This is stated in the note released at the end of the Board of Directors on Tuesday 17 September, which accepted the resignation, defining a consensual resolution of the contract with a maxi good exit. The agreement “provides for the payment of an amount as an incentive to leave at 13 million 95 thousand 675 euros,” in addition to the severance pay.
But that is not all. The Atlantia group will take responsibility for any legal defense: “For any civil, criminal or administrative judgment involving Castellucci, even after the termination of the relationship, including for compensation and compensation, and also for legal fees and appraisals, it will be borne by the society, unless proven and proven malicious conduct were to emerge “. At the base of the resignations there was the collapse of the Atlantia Spa stock on the Milan Stock Exchange after the news of the executives of the Autostrade per l’Italia group companies and Spea Engineering ended up under house arrest.
The financial company of the Benetton family, shareholded by important international investors including the American funds Vanguard and BlackRock as detailed in a previous article, contained the losses in the last week but as soon as the news of the investigation on the false reports has bounced all over the world on Friday 13 September the share price fell 8.08%, falling to a nominal value of 20.18 euros in the FTSE MIB (Financial Times Stock Exchange Milan Stock Exchange Index).
Monday, September 16th, after an initial small recovery at 21.75 euros, it again fell by 8.39%, settling at 20.32 euros with a slight recovery at 20.44 at the end for a final daily loss of 7.84% . After the resignation of Giovanni Castellucci, formerly former CEO of Autostrade for Italy, it stabilized during the week. The criticalities in the management of the motorway network emerged after the disasters of the Ponte Morandi, of other structures and the various judicial investigations into the safety conditions of the viaducts. The critical points are in fact by now evident after the disasters of the Ponte Morandi, of other structures and the various judicial inquiries on the safety conditions of the viaducts.
FALSE REPORTS DESPITE 85 DEATHS FOR THE BRIDGES
85 deaths for absent or defective maintenance were not enough. The 43 victims of the collapse of the Ponte Morandi in Genoa, the 40 victims of the Acqualonga viaduct for new-jerseys with corroded bolts and the other two remained crushed by the artifact being repaired near Loreto were not sufficient to induce Autostrade per l’Italia spa (Aspi) to change operating methods in managing the turnpike roads. But not even to induce the judges to throw open the doors of a cell to sweep away the sense of impunity that emerges from the behavior of executives and technicians in Aspi and Spea (a company specializing in large infrastructures).
If before the prosecutors were to censor the company policy “that does not think about security, but responds to the logic of profit”, said the public prosecutor of Avellino Rosario Cantelmo in asking and obtaining the conviction of 6 Autostrade managers for the A16 massacre, today they are the same technicians, intercepted by the Group of the Guardia di Finanza of Genoa in the investigation bis on the collapse of the Polcevera viaduct, to admit to not care of security… Despite so the Aspi company controlled by Atlantia has issued an official note disputing the existence of dangers for the roads.
THE JUDGE: “SERIOUS RISKS FOR THE ROAD USERS”
This is clearly stated by the judge for preliminary investigations Angela Nutini, the judge who ordered the expert opinion on the Morandi Bridge disaster which shows the severe corrosion in the support joints, in the order for precautionary measures issued against nine directors of Aspi and Spea for the bogus reports on the critical conditions of some viaducts managed by Autostrade.
The investigating judge in the precautionary measures decree that the conduct of the suspects is “seriously threatening the safety of road users”. The precautionary measures, three house arrest and six interdiction measures, concern the alleged false reports on the imposing Pecetti viaduct of the A26 Genoa-Gravellona Toce, in Liguria (in the municipality of Mele), and the Paolillo, a small bridge overlooking the homonymous stream , on the A16 Naples-Canosa to Canosa di Puglia (Barletta-Andria-Trapani).
In particular, Massimiliano Giacobbi (Spea), Gianni Marrone (direction VIII trunk) and Lucio Torricelli Ferretti (VIII trunk direction) ended up under house arrest. The disqualification measures, suspended from public services for 12 months, concern technicians and officials of Spea and Aspi: Maurizio Ceneri; Andrea Indovino; Luigi Vastola; Gaetano Di Mundo; Francesco D’antona and Angelo Salcuni.
In addition to the Paolillo and the Pecetti, reports on the Moro viaduct near Pescara, the Sei Luci and the Gargassa in Liguria and the Sarno on the A30 were also targeted. In the investigation of the false reports, Spea’s CEO Antonino Galatà and Michele Donferri Mitelli, former national manager of Aspi’s maintenance operations, have been investigated and transferred to another position.
The circumstance emerged during the interrogation of witnesses during the investigation of the collapse of Ponte Morandi. In particular, the Spea technicians told investigators that the reports “had sometimes been changed after the meetings with supervisor Maurizio Ceneri, while in other cases it was Ceneri himself who modified them without consulting with others”.
The falsification of the report on the Pecetti viaduct in A26 would have served to guarantee the passage of an exceptional transport of 141 tons: with the high toll revenue for the Autostrade company. A cable was broken in August 2018 and Maurizio Ceneri would have compiled the document that falsely attested the loss of prestressing to 18% compared to the real one of 33%. The reports were drafted in September and October, to investigations already underway.
THE ASPI MANAGER: «I HAVE TO REDUCE COSTS. YOU’VE TO INVENT»
The alarm for the Pecetti bridge, 140 meters long with a height of over 30 from the ground, was finished on all media in December 2018, when it was also reported the image of a pylon with obvious signs of corrosion, and in January 2019 when the news of the investigation bis on the Morandi Bridge spread due to the precarious security conditions of other viaducts and the registration of 21 Aspi and Spea officials and technicians in the register of suspects.
What arouses confusion today is the bravado that emerged from telephone tapping despite the fact that the interested parties even used a “jammer”, an sophisticate system to interfere in the smartphone frequency. From the chats there emerges a total awareness and neglect of security to the advantage of shared profit logic as in a true close-knit “clique”.
We should be remembered that both the Aspi and Spea companies are controlled by Atlantia, the financial company that sees the Benetton brothers as majority shareholders but is also owned by the Cassa Risparmio Torino Foundation and the powerful American fund BlackRock, and for both the Ancona Public Prosecutor has asked for trial (together with another company of the group and 19 others) for the collapse of the bridge 167 on the A14 where, near Loreto, on March 9th 2017 the spouses Emilio Diomede and Antonella Viviani died.
And one of the most disturbing conversations was recorded about the works in the Marche. «Among the technicians and managers of Spea there is the suspicion that they are the” lightning rods “of Autostrade – writes ANSA – And to protect themselves, some people record the meetings, the meetings with Aspi’s management and keep them on their computer as well. Thanks to those files kept in the computer of one of the suspects in the investigation into false reports on viaducts, the investigators discover that already in 2017 the cards were always rigged for a goal: to reduce costs, a logic of behavior that “prevails over the purpose of guarantee the safety of the infrastructure “”.
In May 2017 the restoration of the Giustina viaduct on the A14 is discussed. The big voice is Michele Donferri Mitelli, the former national manager of Aspi maintenance. “I have to reduce costs – Donferri says – Now you invent what you think … and I put it to you by obligation”. Lucio Torricelli Ferretti, from Aspi, (under house arrest since yesterday together with Gianni Marrone of Aspi and Massimiliano Giacobbi of Spea) tries to make it clear that it is not enough and Donferri replies that “it has no relevance if it is true or not”.
IMPORTANT INTERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE ACQUALONGA DISASTER
The prosecutor’s office in Genoa also sent some documents to colleagues in Avellino who investigated the massacre of the bus crashed in 2013 from the “Acqualonga” viaduct of the A16 Naples-Canosa, causing the death of 40 people. In particular, the Genoese magistrates have sent the interceptions relating to Paolo Berti, at the time of the collapse of the Morandi bridge, Director of Autostrade Central Operations.
In that telephone conversation, according to what emerged in the investigation into the false reports on motorway viaducts, Berti speaks with Michele Donferri Mitelli, former Aspi national maintenance manager. The first expressed disappointment at having been sentenced (5 years and 10 months) for that incident complaining that he could tell the truth and get others into trouble. The other responds that he would not have gained anything while, in light of his behavior, he can “make an agreement with the boss”. “You’re right but it’s not like you put another in your house to change something. So at this point, don’t care! Wait at the gate and just think about making a deal with the boss.”
For these sentences also the Genoese magistrate Angela Nutini ordered house arrest. “For the majority of the suspects the precautionary requirements are also correlated to the danger of probative pollution – the judge writes in the order reported by Telenord – If compared to some it can be considered that the interdiction is sufficient, there are others who have shown a absolute ruthlessness to carry out activities to contrast investigations. For these, the interdictive measures cannot be considered adequate, since they would not prevent probative pollution, even in relation to the distorted business logic. There is a concrete and present danger that, in relation to some suspects, the removal from the position held does not distract them from continuing to pollute the investigations, being able to trust in a profit, even of an economic nature, as suggested by Donferri to Berti in relation to an acquisition of documents on the Avellino bridge: Donferri suggests him to keep a certain conduct because it is more profitable than to collaborate ».
THE HIGHWAYS FIRM: “NO DANGER”. SUSPENDED THE SUSPECTED
The Aspi company controlled by Atlantia has issued an official note disputing the existence of dangers for the roads: «In order to guarantee citizens the widest information on the safety conditions of the viaducts of their own network, Autostrade per l’Italia announces that it has published on the homepage of the website www.autostrade.it, in the ‘Viaducts Security’ area, detailed data sheets on the security conditions of the Pecetti viaduct and the Paolillo bridge and the relative communications sent to MIT. From the information and documents that can be consulted by anyone emerges a condition of full security of the two works ».
While Benetton makes it known that the necessary initiatives will be taken “to safeguard credibility” and the leader of the 5 Star Movement Luigi Di Maio reiterates “the will to revoke the concessions to Benetton”, the companies of the group act against their “lightning rods” as reported by Ansa: “The Board of Spea Engineering” has ordered the immediate suspension from the assignment of the same employees “. In addition, the Board of Directors “is willing to remit its mandate in the hands of the President to allow the most effective protection of the Company. Any subsequent and consequent action will be taken by the Board of Directors already convened for next Tuesday, September 17”.
But Autostrade per l’Italia has also suspended the two employees “involved in the forgery of the Pecetti and Paolillo viaducts”. An Autostrade board of directors was called on Monday. It should also be remembered that the suspension of the suspects is an act directly consequential to the interdiction by the public services ordered by the judge.
Regarding the conversations on the Paolillo bridge, on the A16, Autostrade per l’Italia’s Directorate of Bari Trunk goes into detail, stating that “they refer to an inconsistency in the construction documentation, in the ’70s,” an incongruity exceeded from the test and from the relative load tests on the installed beam “, while” there is no reference to the static nature of the bridge, whose safety has always been confirmed “, nor has there ever been the will to omit information. The Bari office Aspi “considers it appropriate to clarify that these are obviously fragments extrapolated from a more complex comparison between client and supplier” omitting to specify, however, that both Autostrade per l’Italia and Spea are part of the Atlantia Group.
“The contents of the interceptions – to be evaluated in the light of the facts and the detailed evidence already presented to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport in the correspondence exchanged with the Management of Tronco on the case in question – do not delineate the will to omit information relevant to safety of the bridge, but only the opportunity to expose an apparent discrepancy between the construction documents (dating back to the 1970s) in a way less exposed to misleading interpretations »adds the Trunk Management.
An apparently coherent declaration that is not enough to refute the documentary evidence and the disconcerting interceptions collected by the Finance in almost a year of investigations on the reports manipulated for profit at any cost. Even at the expense of the lives of unsuspecting drivers.
Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
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