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Italy's biggest business: the Mafia


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Italy's biggest business: the Mafia

By Malcolm Moore in Rome

Last Updated: 4:32pm BST 23/10/2007

The Mafia is now Italy’s biggest “business”, earning more than £63 billion a year and committing 50 crimes every hour, according to a new report

Organized crime now represents seven per cent of the Italian economy, as members of the country’s four main Mafia organisations branch out from extortion and drugs-running into previously legitimate industries, such as food.

According to the tenth annual report from Confesercenti, a small-business union, “Mafia Inc” has now leapfrogged the state-owned energy giant, Eni, as Italy’s largest firm. Because of a lack of firm evidence, the report did not include an estimate of the Mafia’s annual income from drugs, which could be as high as £35 to £40 billion.

Italy’s huge number of small, family-owned, businesses is particularly at risk of having to pay a “pizzo”, or protection money, to the Mafia. Around 80 per cent of Sicilian businesses cough up a pizzo, of as much as £350 a month.

However, the burgeoning power of Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples, the ’Ndrangheta in Calabria and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia, has led to the infiltration of bigger businesses as well.

“Companies listed on the stock market with headquarters in Milan and Turin” are among the victims, not just “small shops in the Naples suburbs,” said the report.

Tano Grasso, the head of Italy’s anti-racket commission, said businesses “increasingly prefer to collude with the Mafia”. He added: “It is more convenient for them to pay up than to report them”. The report said the Mafia was particularly active in public works, where gangs control many of the workmen on construction sites.

The report alleged that Impregilo, Italy’s biggest engineering company, Condotte SpA, a water pipeline company and Italcementi, Europe’s largest cement group, all pay off the Mafia. Spokesmen for all three companies denied the charges.

Full story, Source: The Telegraph

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