A junior member of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government has been investigated for charges against political corruption, alleged fraud and contract rigging in migration centres, officials said on Friday.
The allegations followed after police arrested 44 people and placed 21 others under investigation in the same case.
Prosecutors in Catania, Sicily said Giuseppe Castiglione, junior secretary for agriculture and a partner of Renzi’s in the centre-right coalition, in a list of officials under investigation in the ‘mafia capital’ cases that have been ongoing since last year.
Castiglione is the first national government-affiliated public servant to be involved in the case, but he denied any wrongdoing.
"I'm absolutely calm about this issue," he said.
According to police, contract rigging at migrant centres is a small part of the ongoing investigation, a which has opened the doors to a large scale scale of corruption linked to politicians and businessman
The deepening crisis has mainly extended to local politicians in Rome, however, it has deteriorated Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD), which presently runs the city administration.
The crisis has demonstrated the extent of which deception is prevalent amongst the operators who have exploited the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, which left authorities in a difficult situation in handling thousands of refugees entering the country.
The migrant reception centres are often contracted to third parties that are associated with social cooperative organisations, in affiliation with the Catholic Church. The organisers have allegedly organised a scheme to fix tenders and gain the right for the migrant centre contracts.
Castiglione's name was connected to the authorities that managed migrant centre contracts for the Sicilian town of Mineo, the centre where survivors were taken to safety after a disaster in April led to the death of over 800 people.