Italy's fallenmedia mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori (pictured left) announced on Monday night that he is temporarily "abstaining" himself from all his duties as president of the Cecchi Gori Group.
Cecchi Gori's self-suspension announcement comes only days after police said they found nine grams of cocaine during an early morning search at his homes and offices in Rome and Florence.
Cecchi Gori, who is now being questioned by Rome magistrates for possession of cocaine, is also being investigated for alleged money laundering related to his Fiorentina soccerclub which is on the brink of bancruptcy.
After undergoing days of battering in the nation's newspapers, Cecchi Gori released a briefstatement saying that management of the group's companies would be "handed over to trusted people until everything becomes clear and the truthprevails."
Since his latest round of trouble began Cecchi Gori has insisted that he has been the victim ofa campaign mounted against him and the victim of fraud. His lawyers haveclaimed that the allegations against him are unfounded.
Meanwhile, as he continues to defend himself from accusations that his group is on the verge of bankruptcy, Cecchi Gori insists that he has so far only received a portion of the payment owed to him by multimedia group Seat-Tin.it which recently acquired his financially beleaguered TV station, Telemontecarlo. He also maintains thathe is still waiting to receive some money from the sale of his share in pay-TV operationStream.
Until 1999, the Cecchi Gori Group, which has interests in production, distribution andexhibition, was the undisputed king of the Italian film industry. Since then,however, a crescendo of financial and legal trouble has severely curtailed thecompany's production and international acquisitions campaign. Its market sharehas now dropped to just 4.6%, without any titles currently in the box office top20.
Despite agrowing number of defections from its stable of film directors to reigningnumber one Medusa, Cecchi Gori hopes to have some financial respite next yearwhen it releases Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio, local star Leonardo Pieraccioni's upcoming comedy and also Michael Mann's mega-budget boxing picture Ali which it acquired at Cannes.