A member of the left-wing Italian Democratic Party (PD) has been accused of exploiting migrants during her election campaign by giving money to a pro-migrant group which allegedly made migrants work for free.
Democratic Party MP Elena Carnevali from the city of Bergamo is said to have reached out to the Ruah cooperative, a social centre that manages around 1,600 asylum seekers and has a cash flow of around €9 million (£8.15m/$10.1m) per year.
Allegedly, the PD MP reached out to the president of the cooperative Bruno Goisis during her election campaign in February 2018. She is said to have asked for three or four people to help with campaign work, such as leafleting and printing election posters, and said she would give an “economic contribution” for any help received, Il Giornale reports.
Mr Goisis quickly accepted the request, it is alleged, asking the politician where she needed the help.
Several days later, it is claimed, the two spoke again on the telephone to discuss money. Ms Carnevali allegedly referred Goisis to PD accountant Alessandro Redondi, who is said to have spoken to Goisis and discovered he was not going to pay any of the migrants, saying that he did not care if they were paid but only that Carnevali is re-elected.
An investigation into the Ruah cooperative began in 2017.
Recently, much of Italy was shocked after Antonio Zanotti, the founder of the Renewal cooperative, and two other senior associates were placed under house arrest earlier this month as part of a wider investigation.
The group is accused of transferring illicitly earned money by profiting from state subsidies for migrants and using various companies and ventures to cover their tracks.
In total, 38 people have been targetted by investigators in connection with the allegations made toward the cooperative and other groups.
The claims come just weeks after 13 Chinese nationals were arrested by Italian authorities, accused of exploiting illegal migrants in slave-labour like conditions to make medical masks in the city of Prato.