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Eight arrested in Sicily for allegedly interfering with wind plant tender call

Eight have been arrested in Sicily for allegedly interfering with a tender call for wind farm construction in Mazara del Vallo, near Trapani on the western tip of the island. Taken into custody were suspected members of a crime syndicate, politicians, civil servants and businessmen. Corrupt officials are accused of receiving money and luxury gifts including a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for allowing Italian company Sud Wind Srl, allegedly favoured by a local crime group, to win authorisation for its wind farm project, a 48 MW facility using Repower 2 MW turbines. Sud Wind managers Luigi Franzelli and Antonio Aquara were reportedly among those arrested. The project was later sold to another company called Eolica del Vallo, which in turn sold it to Italian wind development company Veronagest. Veronagest recently inaugurated the wind farm and says it is not worried about fallout from the case because the criminal investigation covers a period prior to Veronagest's acquisition of the Eolica del Vallo project company. Eolica del Vallo itself is not under investigation, and none of the individuals investigated have business or other relationships with Eolica del Vallo. Meanwhile, wind power association Associazione Nazionale Energia del Vento (ANEV) urged against generalisations about the Italian wind business based on the arrests. ANEV also asked the government to quickly approve simplified project authorisation and plant siting guidelines to ensure legality.

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