The nomination of Giuseppe Conte to serve as prime minister of the incoming populist government of Italy was hit by doubts after questions arose about the accuracy of the law professor’s academic résumé.
Conte, a virtually unknown law professor in Florence who has served as a personal attorney to Luigi Di Maio, the head of the Five Star Movement(M5S), has stated on his public CV that he “refined” his legal studies at New York University in 2008 and 2009.
But on Tuesday Italy’s two leading newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, seized on a report in the New York Times that said that New York University had no record of Conte ever attending as either a student or a professor.
He also stated that he had enhanced his legal studies at Yale University in New Haven, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the Sorbonne in Paris, and Cambridge University in the UK in 2001. Citing confidentiality rules, Cambridge said it could not immediately confirm or deny whether Conte attended the university.
A university source later told Reuters that they had not found any trace of a visit, but said the professor might have attended a course prepared by a third party.
The International Kultur Institut in Vienna is also named on the résumé, where Conte said he had worked on his legal studies. But the Kultur Institut is a language school, according to an online profile.
The M5S defended Conte on Tuesday, and criticised the foreign and Italian press for suggesting he had lied about academic credentials that Conte never claimed he had.
“In his curriculum Giuseppe Conte wrote with clarity that he perfected and updated his studies at New York University. But he did not cite courses or say he completed a master’s at the university,” said a statement by the M5S.
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