Santa Gilla, gates of Cagliari, expanse of white gold on the slopes of Monte Arcosu. Registered office for a little while longer in Macchiareddu, a para-industrial enclave between colonies of pink flamingos and immense salt lagoons. Public concession, only nominally, of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. For the rest, ENI, the state's oil dominus, has always taken care of doing and undoing here, with its long arm over Sardinian salt. In this strip of land reclaimed 100 years ago from malaria by the ingenuity of Luigi Conti Vecchi, Eni, however, cannot rest.
Ever since the world began, Sardinia has always been considered a sort of disposable land, where you can consume the most profitable business and then, without firing a shot, run away. Very often with the complicity of the guardians of the regional autonomy. The history of the salt pans of Cagliari, which have always been dedicated to the engineer Luigi Conti Vecchi, from whom the homonymous joint-stock company still takes its name, is now at the center of a real corporate yellow, all consumed in the silence of the institutions, starting from the regional ones. That Eni wanted to get rid of this heritage is written in the documents of the last ten years. A disengagement that culminated this summer with the shares, all underground, aimed at "selling" the concession for the salt pans, which had just been replenished by a substantial renewal for a further twenty-seven years. An act initiated by the Pigliaru junta, complete with salaams consumed with the top management of ENI in the white expanses of Santa Gilla, and then endorsed by the current regional executive who even declared himself unaware of the "saline" maneuvers of the State body. A renewal procedure that still today has many dark sides, starting from the duration of the concession itself, given that the regional provisions had sanctioned, and applied, a maximum duration of 15 years for all the other saltworks.
The 12 year gift
A "gift" of 12 more years that has left perplexed not only operators in the sector, but also analysts of concession law. The regional "gift" to Eni has obviously increased the value of the salt pans, so much so that the State Body hasn't thought twice about putting them on the market immediately, to get rid of them and profit heavily from the operation. Tight and secret negotiations between various foreign and Sicilian operators. Great maneuvers at the gates of Cagliari with the Sardinian Region, according to what has been repeatedly stated, remained "officially" unaware of the operation. A real hostile act given that a public concession cannot be "sold" much less with the sale of the shares of the owner company. Any sale of “Luigi Conti Vecchi SpA” to a third party could clearly be configured as a circumvention of the rules on transparency and competition, especially when a recently renewed public concession is at stake.
The Wall of Silence
It is for this reason, but not only that, that after the anticipations of the Unione Sarda, a veil of secrecy has fallen over the whole affair which is difficult to reconcile with the management of a public good of that importance, not only productive but also environmental and naturalistic. All this until the first documents on the "yellow" of the salt of Santa Gialla began to leak. The first real mystery of this affair is that linked to the shareholding and management structure of the company "Contivecchi SpA".
The Sicilian blitz
The chamber of commerce registration, the one that officially photographs the corporate status, is relentless in the blatant contradiction that is taking place in Macchiareddu. The first datum emerges from the entrance, manu militari, into the company of a new managerial group. Not a super partes manager, but a real and consolidated family unit that has literally taken over the helm of the Sardinian salt pans. Leading the climb is the Morgante family in person, that of the lawyer Francesco Morgante, the Palermitan king of salt.
Monica Morgante, also a lawyer of the award-winning Sicilian salt family, takes over the presidency of Contivecchi, together with Enrico, also Morgante, who is entrusted with the operational reins of the company and Giuseppe Baglio da Serradifalco, a simple adviser, needless to say Sicilian too . The blitz took place in the secret notarial rooms without anyone knowing anything, also because - and this is the most mysterious aspect of the story - Eni entrusted one of its companies, which it still "officially" owns 100% of the shares to a Sicilian family which, until proven otherwise, does not own that company.
The "yellow" of salt
A real corporate "mystery" that has a double public implication, on the one hand a concession, that of the Sardinian Region and on the other a "public" shareholding company entrusted to a private company. The vulnerability explodes in the papers in our possession when it emerges that not only the Morgante family dictates the law, but actually "orders" Eni to deal with environmental issues, including the part relating to the "mysterious" environmental characterization of the Santa Gilla salt pans. Eni, in fact, on the basis of the agreements with the Region, should have drawn up the map of potential pollution in those 2,615 hectares of salt and sun, surrounded, however, by imposing factors of environmental danger.
It was Monica Morgante, the new president, who revealed the purchase of Eni's shares, never transcribed in the chamber of commerce records, in the first useful minutes of the Board of Directors of “Contivecchi SpA”. He says it openly, revealing relevant details on the environmental issue: «After the meeting of the Contivecchi company held following the purchase by NUCE SpA of the entire capital and in compliance with the commitments undertaken by Italkali SpA with the assignor Eni Rewind». As the newly appointed President and legal representative of the historic company, she openly declares that «she has signed the new mandate in favor of Eni Rewind called «Mandate for the execution of environmental services and the fulfillment of legal acts on the Plant Area and on the Saline Area of the Assemini site». To break the delay is a mayor auditor. His question in full board of directors is embarrassing: "What does this agreement include?". The answer is smoky, as befits an operation of this magnitude. The other Morgante on the Board of Directors, Enrico, answers, recalling how «the area contiguous to the Contivecchi property has been the subject of an environmental reclamation project requested and approved by the MATM and entrusted to Eni in the past decade. The project - in an advanced stage of implementation - concerns the areas adjacent to the salt pan used for the chlorosoda chemical plants which were owned by the Conti Vecchi up until the end of the year. In no case can these areas, nor even the reclamation, cause any damage or impediment to the cultivation activity. While the procedure for characterizing the saline area had been requested by the granting administration on the occasion of the renewal of the cultivation permit. The mandate is free and does not involve charges for the company but rather caution ".
The Environmental Mystery
Caution about what? What charges? What happened to the characterization of the salt pans requested by the Region? All unanswered questions. Certainly in Santa Gilla a real public-private crime is taking place with a state-owned company entrusted to a "private" Sicilian family, without any tender, without any certainty on the environmental match. Added to this is a Sardinian regional concession that has become sensationally Sicilian, with Sardinians once again being driven out of their homes. Sardinian salt has become Sicilian.