February 7, 2019 / 5:31 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Italy's Atlantia unit rejects reports of altered safety reports

(Adds quotes, details)

MILAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Atlantia’s road maintenance unit SPEA, the company in charge of safety monitoring on the Genoa bridge which collapsed, has dismissed media speculation that it altered inspection reports.

Italian daily La Stampa said on Thursday that reports on several motorway viaducts managed by Atlantia’s motorway unit Autostrade, including the bridge in Genoa, were modified by SPEA executives to underplay safety risks.

SPEA said in a statement that its technicians had acted “properly and diligently” in overseeing the motorway network and their activity was controlled by both internal bodies and independent auditors.

“Speculation saying inspection reports were systematically ‘manipulated’ to avoid closures or traffic restrictions, or delay investments, on constantly monitored routes are false,” SPEA said in a statement.

Last week Italian prosecutors launched an investigation into the safety reports compiled by SPEA on five viaducts, judicial sources said.

There is an additional ongoing probe into the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, which killed 43 people in August.

Several managers of Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, and officials at the transport ministry are under investigation for the Genoa disaster.

SPEA said it would work with the investigating authorities looking into the latest allegations and was confident that it would be found that its procedures were correct.

The company said it would take appropriate action if any cases of fraud were found to have been committed by its employees.

Since the disaster in Genoa, Autostrade has come under fire from the Italian government for poor oversight and maintenance of the motorway network.

The governing coalition has threatened to revoke the concession managed by Atlantia’s motorway unit. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Francesca Landini, writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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