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Telecom Italia espionage scandal deepens

Former chairman denies illegal activity

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The former chairman of Telcom Italia has denied any involvement in an escalating industrial espionage scandal surrounding the telco.

Marco Tronchetti Provera, the current chairman of Pirelli and former chairman of Telcom Italia, issued a strongly worded statement published by Italian Daily La Stampa on Sunday stating that he had never acted illegally in his professional career, nor ordered anyone else to do so. The denial follows reports that Milan prosecutors are investigating reports that PCs at RCS MediaGroup, in which Pirelli has a minority stake, were hacked, AFX reports.

Milan investigators ordered the arrest on Thursday of three former Telecom Italia workers on espionage charges. A fourth suspect is already in custody over similar espionage charges stemming from a separate investigation.

Telecom Italia is suspected of using illegal means to spy on business rivals and politicians. Targets of the alleged espionage include Vittorio Colao, the former boss of RCS Mediagroup, which publishes Il Corriere della Sera and Massimo Mucchetti, deputy director of Il Corriere della Sera. Critical articles in the paper about Telecom Italia, and the suspicion these were fed to the paper by business rivals, provided the motivation for the alleged attacks.

Tronchetti quit the chairmanship of Telecom Italia last September over a strategy row with the Italian government, which holds a minority take in the carrier. La Repubblica, via AFX, reports, that the investigation is a factor in souring relations between Tronchetti and his successor at Telecom Italia, Guido Rossi.

Il Corriere della Sera questions Tronchetti's contention that Telecom Italia is co-operating fully with the investigation of activities that happened during Tronchetti's watch. The paper cites prosecutors’ reports claiming that Telecom Italia hindered efforts to recover internet logs that might identify the source of the attack against RCS Mediagroup as originating from its systems, IDG reports. ®

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