Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Italy makes 'record' Mafia asset seizure

Map of ItalyItalian authorities have confiscated assets worth 1.5bn euros (£1.25bn) from a Sicilian businessman accused of working with the Mafia.

It was the largest seizure yet under anti-Mafia laws, officials said.

The businessman, Vito Nicastri, had invested heavily in renewable energy, seen as an emerging way for criminal groups to launder money.

The suspect is thought to be close to Matteo Messina Denaro, considered as the Mafia's current "boss of bosses".

Among the assets seized were 43 wind and solar power companies registered in Sicily and in Calabria, the southern Italian region that is home to the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group.

Buildings, plots of land, and the contents of current accounts and other deposits were also confiscated.

Mr Nicastri, 54, was based in the north-western Sicilian town of Alcamo.

Authorities arrested him along with three others in 2009, as part of the investigation that led to Tuesday's raids, the interior ministry said.

via BBC News - Italy makes 'record' Mafia asset seizure.

Suspected Mafia leader Gianni Nicchi was arrested in  PalermoGianni Nicchi was found in an apartment in Palermo, Sicily

Two top Mafia figures, including the alleged second-in-command, have been arrested in Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced.

Gianni Nicchi, 28, was found in an apartment in Palermo, Sicily.

Police said they had also arrested another top leader, Gaetano Fidanzati, 74, on a street in Milan.

A day earlier a witness in a Mafia case had linked Mr Berlusconi to the crime gang - a charge he denied, emphasising that he was fighting the criminals.

Announcing the arrests to journalists, Mr Berlusconi said on Saturday: "This is the best response to all the slander made by irresponsible people who, by doing this, are only slinging mud" at Italy.

An ex-Mafia member had told a Turin court that mob chief Giuseppe Graviano had said Mr Berlusconi and a senator had helped the Mafia.

The top of the Mafia wanted list remains the alleged boss - Matteo Messina Denaro.

Series of arrests

Mr Berlusconi said his government "had done more than any other to fight organised crime in the last 20 years".

Nicchi, son of a convicted Mafia member, was sentenced to 18 years in jail in January 2008 for extortion and Mafia links.

Anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso said: "If we carry on like this, there will be no names left on the list of 30 most-wanted criminals."

The latest arrests mean police have captured 17 of Italy's top 30 most-wanted suspected criminals in a few months.

Wind and solar power companies? That doesn't sound very evil.  I grew up in America, so I don't know much about this, but why don't these stories talk about the evidence?

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