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Police arrest former Finmeccanica consultant

July 9, 2010

by Guy Dinmore in Rome

Police in Rome on Thursday said they had detained Lorenzo Cola, a former consultant to Finmeccania, the Italian defence conglomerate, suspected of involvement in money laundering.

Mr Cola was detained as he was preparing to leave Rome for the United States.

Italian media and legal sources said Mr Cola was detained as the result of a wider investigation into a group of politicians and businessmen suspected of tax evasion and money laundering involving broadband operators Fastweb and Telecom Italia’s Sparkle unit.

The investigation led to over 50 arrest warrants issued in February. Fastweb and Sparkle deny wrongdoing and say they were also victims of the alleged 2bn euro scam.

Among those arrested was Gennaro Mokbel, a right-wing politician and businessman. According to investigators, Mr Cola is believed to have been involved in the purchase by Mr Mokbel of a holding company, Lincoln Financial, which had a majority shareholding in Digint, a software company which had sold a 49 per cent stake and operational control to Finmeccanica.

Francesco Guarguaglini, Finmeccanica chief executive, confirmed in a recent interview with Panorama magazine that Mr Cola had worked as a consultant for Finmeccanica and for accountants Ernst & Young. Neither company had immediate comment on Thursday.

Earlier this week police arrested two men suspected of smuggling money for Mr Mokbel.

Police intercepts obtained by the media also reveal conversations with Marco Toseroni, who was arrested in February, in which he claims he met in May 2008 with Giorgio Zappa, a senior Finmeccanica executive, to discuss possible arms sales to Central Asia.

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