If you don’t know who Licio Gelli is, and what he represents, you will never be able to understand Italian politics.  Or American politics, for that matter.  And your comprehension of recent history on either side of the Atlantic will be notably incomplete.

Although it’s entirely possible that Lunghu’s scant few readers have no interest in understanding politics and history of any kind, one would have to wonder why such folks are reading this blog to begin with.  The timeless prose? The carefully curated selection of images? Probably not.  Who knows why they read? Who knows their interests, and what they understand? Or what they seek to understand.

Meanwhile … back in Tuscany … for Signor Gelli –like the rest of us– two things in life are certain: death and taxes.

Licio Gelli_1998

Italian finance police seized the family villa of Italian financier Licio Gelli in a tax-evasion probe in the central city of Arezzo, investigators said Thursday.  Gelli, 94, his wife Gabriella Vasile, their three children Maurizio, Maria Rosa and Raffaello, as well as a grandchild, Alessandro Marsilli, are all under investigation for an alleged scheme to avoid paying taxes that authorities say amounts to 17 million euros.

Faced with large tax arrears and an imminent [lien on the property] by the tax collection agency Equitalia in 2007, ownership of the villa was fraudulently signed over to Gelli’s wife and grandchild and then, in a subsequent transaction, to a [shell] company set up in Rome … which was traceable back to Gelli.


So What?

[Until the 1980s,] Gelli was the leader of [Italy’s] P2 Masonic lodge, an influential secret network that included the billionaire tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, politicians, magistrates, bankers and military commanders.  The lodge was officially banned by an Italian court in 1981. Gelli has been convicted several times for financial crimes and has been under house arrest since 1998. He was implicated in the secret anti-communist paramilitary organization Gladio and the collapse of the Vatican-linked Banco Ambrosiano bank in 1982.  A police raid [that year] found 179 gold ingots weighing 370 pounds hidden in planters around Villa Wanda.

It’s interesting –but not surprising– that the Guardia di Finanza has waited until the definitive(?) downfall of Silvio Berlusconi before pursuing the Gelli tax investigation to its next adminstrative step.  Recourse to the incremental process of Italian justice and its numerous rounds of legal appeal should keep Signor Gelli and his heirs very busy for several years to come.  As the old song says, there is rest for the weary / on the other side of Jordan.



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