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Beware of Italian ‘mafia entrepreneurs’

Ahead of the Sept. 25 elections, the economic and social crisis that has boosted hardline support in Italy has left Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy, facing an even greater threat from organized crime. Vulnerable to intrusion.

In a speech in May, the last speech before his government fell, Prime Minister Mario Draghi, now interim prime minister, warned that organized crime “has taken on a new, but equally frightening form”.

Beyond violence and threats of violence, “organized crime permeates corporate boards,” he said. “They are polluting the fabric of the economy, from the real estate sector to the wholesale supply chain.”

Seeking profit and power, from Cosa Nostra in Sicily to Camorra in Naples to Ndrangheta in Calabria, organized crime stretched its tentacles south into the wealthy industrial north of Italy. Overall, Italian criminal groups control about 9% of the economy, according to various estimates.

By various estimates, Italian criminal groups control about 9% of the economy.credit:APs

Draghi’s immediate concern was the risk to the €260 billion ($387 billion) EU recovery fund planned for Italy by 2026. Mobs have found new ways to make money during the pandemic. Cash offers a fat new target.

As Europe faces a harsh winter combined with economic and energy crises, law enforcement and crime experts have sounded new alarm bells about mafia groups buying out companies at risk of default. I’m here. This is a problem across Southern Europe, but Italy, where SMEs make up about 80% of the economy, is particularly at risk. Criminal ownership of businesses is a nightmare scenario that undermines legitimate economies and distorts competition, the rule of law, and social structures. Worse, it has already happened.

Milan police chief Giuseppe Petronzi recently warned of a “military operation” by the southern mafia infiltrating one of Europe’s wealthiest regions in the north. Recent data suggests that’s not an exaggeration.

In Italy, between March 2020 and February 2021, the number of businesses investigated by the financial police for suspected mafia activity increased by 9.7, according to Vittorio Rizzi, Italy’s deputy director of public security. . Rome-based research group Demoskopika estimates that around 4,500 businesses, especially tourism, restaurants and bars, are at risk of mafia incursions after the COVID-19 crisis.

The risk facing Italy now is the surge in what the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime calls “mafia entrepreneurs.” Italy was the first country to identify this role over a decade ago.

Beware of Italian ‘mafia entrepreneurs’

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