Merlo case: first 11 million euro ‘damage’ for MSC and the Italian State
Notice to the port of Genoa: the Naples Universiadi extraordinary commissioner announced the cancellation of the charter of MSC Lirica, while Aponte dismissed former Ligurian Port President
“Prohibition against negotiating with public authorities”.
As pointed out by Ship2Shore over a year ago, this is the provision of the public employment regulation for companies hiring a public officer with whom they had dealt with before three years since the termination of the relationship between said officer and the public administration. According to Anti-Corruption Authorities, this condition materialized in 2017, when MSC group hired Luigi Merlo, former president of the port of Genoa until the end of 2015 and Minister Graziano Delrio's adviser.
Unlike other public administrators – such as the current Genoa Port Authority President Paolo Emilio Signorini, who seemed doubtful – the Universiadi 2019 extraordinary commissioner Luisa Latella is sure about the terms of application of said prohibition: "The Italian Anti-Corruption Authorities ordered the Public Administration not to deal with MSC", Latella observed with the support of Coni Servizi managing director Alberto Miglietta.
As a matter of fact, this reveals their intention to cancel the award recently granted to MSC to charter a 2,200 passengers ship to accommodate part of the athletes participating in the sporting event that will be held in Naples between June the 28th and July the 15th 2019.
"The Italian Anti-Corruption Authorities' resolution – to which MSC appealed against before the Regional Administrative Court (obtaining only the rejection of its suspension request, ed.) as it regards it as unlawful – does not impose any prohibition for the company to deal with public administrations", the Swiss company objected. In fact, the prohibition is not established by the resolution, rather by the regulation that said resolution considers to have been infringed.
Therefore, the damage for MSC will amount to 11 million euro, not to mention that another 15 million are still available for similar tenders that GNV is thought to be interested in.
According to the newspaper Il Secolo XIX, MSC terminated its employment relationship with Merlo, and this could imply the fear of greater damages compared to the missed charter. Moreover, it could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and an attempt to reduce the related penalty.
However, as the regulation does not provide for proportionality in the penalties resulting from infringements of law, it is difficult to understand how said decision could be interpreted by a Court that should be called to decide upon the invalidity of acts between MSC and the public administration.