Thursday, September 16, 2010

Italian Mafia Busted Laundering Money Through Clean Energy Projects


Who's cashing in on profitable clean energy markets? Goldman Sachs, China, and now ... the Italian Mafia!

Reuters reports that Italian police seized $1.9 billion in Mafia-linked assets -- reportedly the biggest seizure of mob assets ever -- "in an operation revealing that the crime group was trying to "go green" by laundering money through alternative energy companies."

Investigators said the assets included more than 40 companies, hundreds of parcels of land, buildings, factories, bank accounts, stocks, fast cars and luxury yachts.

Most of the seized assets were located in Sicily, home of the Cosa Nostra, and in southern Calabria, home of its sister crime organization, the 'Ndrangheta.

At the center of the investigation was Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, 54, a man known as the "Lord of the Wind" because of his vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, mostly wind farms.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called the operation "the largest seizure ever made" against the Mafia.

General Antonio Girone, head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said Nicastri was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, believed to be Mafia's current "boss of bosses."

Investigators said Nicastri's companies ran numerous wind farms as well as factories that produced solar energy panels.

"It's no surprise that the Sicilian Mafia was infiltrating profitable areas like wind and solar energy," Palermo magistrate Francesco Messineo told a news conference. ...

Senator Costantino Garraffa, a member of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the "new economy," of alternative energy as it sought out virgin ventures to launder money from drugs and other rackets.

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