In a rather quick turnaround, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's new government has been forced to deal with its first ethics scandal as a top official resigned after reports alleged he accepted paid holidays in a luxury Tuscan hotel while serving under a previous center-left administration.
Carlo Malinconico, Monti's undersecretary in charge of the publishing sector, resigned Tuesday and Monti accepted the resignation, though he insisted he did nothing wrong, The Associated Press reported.
The under-secretary had resigned from his post to better be able to defend his image and his honor ... and to safeguard the credibility and efficacy of the government, Monti's office said in a statement.
According to the Financial Times, Malinconico has admitted that his hotel bills at the luxury Il Pellicano hotel on the Argentario peninsula were paid for by someone else in 2007 and 2008. The Italian media has reported that a businessman under investigation for alleged corruption in a public contracts case paid at least part of the over-$25,000-bill for Malinconico's summer weekend getaways on the Tuscan coast.
On Monday, Malinconico, a former law professor, said in a statement that he was being subjected to trial by media, but did not indicate his resignation. Malinconico said in the statement that he has asked an acquaintance, Angelo Balducci, for help in securing high-season reservations; he was told by the hotel later that his bills had been paid for, and he assumed the account had been settled by Balducci, then a senior official in charge of public construction tenders.
Balducci, along with the businessman Francesco De Vito Piscicelli, was arrested on suspicion of corruption in two larger investigations into government contracts for the 2009 Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila.
They both deny any wrongdoing.
In his statement, Malinconico maintained he had never done favors for either Balducci or Piscicelli. He added that he only recently discovered that Piscicelli paid for his stay.