(ATR) Italian officials fear negative consequences for the international image of the Turin Olympics after magistrates opened a formal investigation on the Agenzia Torino 2006, the organization in charge of supervising all construction work for the Games.
Turin prosecutors suspect that officials with the Agenzia and other organizations took bribes to rig bids for the construction of a stretch of highway near Turin.
Tax police raided the Agenzia offices on November 18, seizing documents related to the bids and to the awarding of the contract to a group of Italian companies.
Enzo Ghigo, president of the Piedmont region where Turin is located, said he fears "negative consequences for the image" of the Olympics.
"I hope there will be no impact on the organization" of the Games, commented Turin mayor Sergio Chiamparino.
Chiamparino also sits on the board of TOROC, the organizing committee for the Games, which has no relation with the Agenzia and is not included in the investigation.
TOROC was recently rocked by instability when a 186 million euros shortfall in its budget came to light, prompting the Italian government to name a supervisor to oversee the committee.
TOROC chairman Valentino Castellani threatened to resign over the issue, but decided to stay after deputy sports minister Mario Pescante, the government appointee, said he will not act as a czar and will work together with Turin officials.
Nine people are under investigation. Among them is Mimmo Arcidiacono, who heads the Agenzia, and one of its directors, Bruno Perotto. Also under investigation is Mauro Coletti, a director of ANAS, the state-owned agency responsible for roads. Managers with the companies that won the contract are also being investigated.
Construction work has not been stopped, however, and officials with the Agenzia told Italian media that the 4-kilometer road, mostly in a tunnel, will be completed as planned in December 2005.
"Transparency is the hallmark of our work," commented Arcidiacono.
The projected cost of the road, located 25 km from Turin near the town of Avigliana, is 123 million euros, or 170 million US dollars. The Agenzia Torino 2006 partially financed the project with 80 million euros of its own funds.
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