Garbage scam exposes mayoral ‘lies’

 ROME – The capital’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, knew the separate waste collection service for non-domestic users was inefficient, lending itself to abuse, according to satirical political affairs programme Le Iene.

 Following the television show’s investigation into Rome’s inadequate waste collection service, Raggi presented a statement to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and consequently Maurizio Raponi, ex-general of the Finance Police and president of Roma Multiservizi – the company contracted by AMA to collect rubbish – is now under investigation for fraud.

 The scam was exposed when La Iene aired images of Multiservizi carrying out garbage collection at night when shops were closed. 

 The footage shows garbage collectors simply swiping the barcodes outside shops, bars and restaurants with their handheld electronic devices. 

 While rubbish hadn’t been collected, the ‘swiping’ resulted in the appearance that it had.

 After the bogus “collection,” came the collection of payment for work (deceptively) carried out.

 The remuneration coming from AMA via taxes collected from Roman citizens. 

 In three years, Romans have forked out 150 million euros for the collection of non-domestic user waste.

 When Le Iena showed the images to Raggi, she said – 

 “Before you told me and pointed out a very specific case, clearly I didn’t know.”

 But Le Iena maintains she knew the story well. 

 At the very least, the disruptions and chaos of the servuce. Particularly as Alessandro Onorato, a Rome councilor as well as owner of a restaurant in Largo Argentina, an area in Rome’s historic centre, had illustrated to Raggi some of the flaws in the inner workings of the waste collection system.

 Onorato told Le Iena he had complained to Raggi about the hit and miss service, which he likens to a game of chance.

 "Unfortunately it is a lottery, perhaps they pass perhaps they don’t pass. But the regulation is set up very badly. This is an example – the damp fish scraps, meat scraps, stuff that stinks, according to the municipality, according to AMA, every restaurant should put this bag at the front of the place and then either AMA or a company in charge should pass between midnight and four a.m. What happens? That in the morning there is a surprise, maybe they’ve taken it, maybe they haven’t taken it,” said Onorato, who informed Raggi about the serious failings in the rubbish collection service three weeks ago. 

 “And she took notes,” he said.

 But he hasn’t heard from her since and the garbage collection service “is the same for us.”

 Raggi clarified her position Thursday evening, passing the buck to AMA.

 “I had already repeatedly asked AMA, following some reports of anomalies, to prepare reports on the service,” Raggi said. “They always answered giving me reassurances.”

 In relation to Onorato’s revelations, Raggi said – 

 “I was aware of it, what I didn’t know were the specific cases documented by the videos.”

 AMA Thursday suspended the payment of fees to Multiservizi, which in turn told employees that it would only pay 70 per cent of salaries, due to the payment freeze, Il Messaggero reported.