Ernst & Young accused of buying government secrets

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MILAN - Classified Government information has been sold to consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) in a secret scheme costing 220,000 euros, according to the accusation of the Prosecutors of Milan Paolo Filippini and Giovanni Polizzi. Both EY (Italy) as a company and senior partner Marco Ragusa has been accused of “corruption.”

 Susanna Masi, an advisor to the Minister of Finance, is said to have provided the company with secret information gathered through her privileged position.

 As reported in Corriere della Sera, the prosecution has alleged that “from 2013 to Jan. 2015, Masi would send Ernst & Young the confidential content of discussions on fiscal regulations within the government and the Council of Ministers.” The information given was highly sensitive and useful to EY to offer their largest customers, often banks, services that allowed them to work around tax laws which were not yet public knowledge.

 As the informant Masi was privy to technical tax legislation being discussed in these circles, the prosecution alleges that she provided an unparalleled, and illegal, insight into the best course of action for EY and its partners. Emails from the Public Prosecutor’s Office describe that Masi “reported to Ernst & Young confidential news, obtained for office reasons and that had to remain secret, relating to the introduction proposal of a European tax on financial transactions.”

 Ernst & Young itself is accused of not taking the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that a senior colleague would not be able to commit such an offence. The company is one of the largest consultancy firms in the world, producing almost 30 billion dollars in revenue last year. 

 Giorgio Perroni, the defence lawyer of Susanna Masi, has said that his client is still waiting for all the relevant documents to be presented by the prosecutor and that Masi is ready to be questioned “with total and complete conviction to demonstrate the correctness of her actions.”