A Rolex too far: Italian minister quits in corruption scandal

Italy's transport and infrastructure minister announced his resignation Thursday after days of revelations implicating him in a corruption scandal involving his department, his son and a 10,000-euro Rolex watch.

Rome: Italy's transport and infrastructure minister announced his resignation Thursday after days of revelations implicating him in a corruption scandal involving his department, his son and a 10,000-euro Rolex watch.

Maurizio Lupi, who had been resisting calls to quit since the scandal first broke earlier this week, confirmed to Italian television that he would step down tomorrow after answering questions about the case in parliament.

Lupi maintained that he had done nothing wrong, saying he was stepping down purely to avoid further damage to the government's credibility.

"I believe my gesture will strengthen the action of the government," he said in a pre-recorded interview with Porta a Porta, the flagship news and discussion programme of public broadcaster Rai.

"I have not lost my honour, nor my passion," he added, saying he hoped to be able to continue his political career.

Lupi, 55, denied that he had been pressed to quit by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, as has been widely reported.

The minister, and by extension Renzi, had been embarrassed by the steady dripfeed of damaging reports following the announcement on Monday of an investigation into the suspected rigging of tenders for major public works projects worth a total of 25 billion euros (USD 26 billion).

Among four men arrested in a probe in which a total of 51 officials and businessmen were placed under investigation, was Ettore Incalza, a senior official in Lupi's department until the end of last year.

Lupi had been particularly embarrassed by the revelation that a businessman who was one of Incalza's alleged accomplices had given his son, Luca Lupi, a 10,000-euro Rolex watch.

Examining magistrates suspect that the same businessman, Stefano Perotti, organised a job for the recently-graduated son at an engineering firm run by his brother-in-law, at the request of the minister.

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