THE mayor of Venice and more than 30 other people have been arrested in a sweeping corruption investigation related to the construction of underwater barriers to protect the historic city from flooding.

It is the latest in a series of Italian bribery investigations involving high-profile public works projects.

Police confirmed Mayor Giorgio Orsoni had been arrested. One report said he was being investigated for alleged corruption, extortion and money laundering.

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The arrests were the result of a three-year investigation that led to the arrest last summer of the head of the consortium building the ambitious but long-delayed system of so-called Moses barriers. Authorities say £16million was diverted abroad to bribe politicians.