“I gave in because that’s how it works in Palermo”

The entrepreneur Roberto Satta speaks: “I am a victim. It was the only way to work, in Milan it’s different”

PALERMO – Crushed by the system. Forced to pay to work. Roberto Satta, operational manager of Health Technologies, one of the companies overwhelmed by the scandal of bribes in Sicilian healthcare, defends himself. He admits to having paid 220 thousand euros to the mediator Giuseppe Taibbi, the man of reference, according to the accusation, of the former manager of Palemro’s ASP Antonio Candela.

He did it though, so he says, because at some point he became the only way not to lose the contract and find themselves facing catastrophic consequences for the company.

“Victim of extortion”, he defines himself. “Some things don’t exist in Milan,” adds Satta in the courtroom by answering the accusation and defense questions. Satta had asked to negotiate the sentence already set at 5 years, but the judge for the preliminary hearing rejected the request, not accepting the defense proposal to reconsider the date of commission of the crime, backdating it from May 2019 to January of the same year. And that is, before the entry into force of the “corrupt sweeps” law which does not provide for the possibility of expiating the sentence with alternative measures to detention in prison.

And so Satta ended up on trial with the abbreviated procedure together with six other defendants: Fabio Damiani, manager of the ASP of Trapani ed former head of the single central purchasing office which managed tenders at regional level; Antonio Candela, last coordinator of the regional structure for the Covid-19 emergency and former manager of the Palermo ASP; Giuseppe Taibbi, entrepreneur linked to Candela; Francesco Zanzi, managing director of Tecnologie Sanitari spa; Angelo Montisanti, operational manager for Sicily of Siram and managing director of Sei Energia scarl; Salvatore Navarra, chairman of the board of directors of Pfe spa; the entrepreneur Salvatore Manganaro from Agrigento.

Satta says he was pressured by Taibbi who said he spoke for Candela. He, however, the former manager met him only once. To work he had to submit to Taibbi’s wishes, says Satta, who presented himself as an expression of “a power group” capable of controlling contracts. He boasted friendships with politics, said he was a man of the secret services and could even speak with the presidency of the Republic. And Satta would give in because it was the only way to keep working.

One of the themes of the process is the transit of the millionaire tender won by Health Technologies for the maintenance of electromedical equipment from the control of the ASP to the direction of the single commissioning center. Passage that would have allowed greater earnings to Health Technologies. According to Satta, however, it was an advantageous operation for the public purse and not for the company.

At the same time, however, by signing a contract, Tecnolgie Sanitari stopped being subjected to constant pressure. Pressures, but also threats that in Sicily would begin with the start of the race and continue without respite. Recommendations for jobs, referrals from suppliers and requests for bribes: working in Sicilian public health would involve all of this.

At one point Taibbi, met at the airport, he asked him what “his financial recognition” was. And they fixed it at 220 thousand euros plus VAT. Satta claims the professionalism of his company, a leader at national level, which has been working with the ASP of Palermo since 2003 without ever having had a complaint. In the end he succumbed to extortion because that’s how it works in Palermo. The examination of the accused is still at the beginning. At the next hearing he will go into the details of that “system of power” you have just mentioned.

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