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The BBC's Andy Hosken
"Mr Fiero is a self-confessed supporter of facism"
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Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 17:04 GMT
Charities probed over alleged neo-Nazi links

By Andy Hosken

The bank accounts of two charities have been frozen by the Charity Commission following allegations they may be linked to a shadowy neo-Nazi organisation.

The Commission says it is investigating concerns over issues of financial management of the two charities, the trust St Michael the Archangel and the St George's Educational Trust.

But the Trustees say the charities promote Catholic literature and deny that they are being used to funnel money into far right groups.

Roberto Fiero, an Italian businessman living in Maida Vale, West London, is perhaps the most controversial trustee to be involved with one of the charities, the St George's Educational Trust.

On the face of it, he has made a small fortune running a letting agency. But he is a legend in Europe's right-wing political movement.

He is a self-confessed supporter of fascism and a far right organisation called the International Third Position.

But in an exclusive interview with the BBC's Today programme, Mr Fiero denied that the charities and their three charity shops - two in London and one in Maidenhead - are a front for extreme politics.

He said their function is to promote the Catholic Church although the Church denies any connection.

New inquiry

The Charity Commission decided to launch a second inquiry into both organisations after concerns over their financial management came to light.

It has also taken the highly unusual step of freezing the charities' accounts - a measure designed to protect assets but allow them to pay their bills and wages.

One of the strangest aspects of the affair is the 7,000 which the official accounts show was paid into a tiny, almost derelict hamlet 50 miles outside Valencia in Spain, called Los Pedriches.

Mr Fiero said he helped buy the village and admits that money did go from St George's Educational Trust into building a chapel there.

But he denied allegations that the hamlet is being used as a training ground for Europe's young fascists and neo-Nazis.

"If that was the case, considering this thing has been going on for the last three years ... the Spanish police, the Spanish magistrates would have intervened a long time ago."

He said the "turmoil" had been provoked by "incredible" stories in the Spanish and British press which had upset people in the area.

The Charity Commission's inquiry is expected to last several months.

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20 Oct 99 |  Your Money
Public 'confused' over charity money

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