Police uncover course scam

March 23, 2007

The former director and the deputy director of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy's most important university academy of music, have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in organising bogus courses to milk European Union funds for professional training.

Lionello Cammarota, the former director, and Ada Gentile, his deputy, are under house arrest. Paolo Bussotti, the head of a company called Stedi that allegedly organised the bogus courses, is in Rome's city prison. Several other people are currently under investigation.

According to investigators, in 2003 and 2004 Stedi received about €735,000 (£500,000) from the regional administration to finance special professional training courses on specific musical instruments, but these courses took place on paper only. The money was paid out by the Lazio region, but came from EU funding for training.

Police discovered that many of the students who were listed as having taken the courses had, in fact, left the academy years earlier.

Also, the many musical instruments listed as being used for the courses simply did not exist. Police also suspect that the same group of people organised similar phantom courses in Nice.

The Government's University Ministry stated that in July 2006 the academy was put in charge of a special commissioner because of widespread rumours regarding its running of professional training courses.

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