Wednesday, June 9, 2010

'Ndrangheta laundering money in Germany

Berlin – Italian mafia organisations are investing billions of euros into Germany to hide their profits from the Italian authorities, organized crime experts said in Berlin on Friday.

“Germany is one of the most important sanctuaries, if not the most important,” Italy’s top anti-mafia lawyer Alberto Cisterna told German Press Agency dpa.

Since German reunification 20 years ago, he said former East Germany had become a key area for Italian mafia organizations to launder their profits.

Cisterna was part of an Italian delegation meeting German investigators in Berlin for a conference on ways of tackling organised crime.

Laura Garavini, a mafia expert in Italy’s Democratic Party, said eastern Germany was particular popular with the ‘Ndrangheta organisation from Italy’s southern Calabria region.

“In the first few years, when the east drew capital from all sorts of directions and nobody paid too much attention where it was coming from, the mafia channelled investments into real estate, tourism and the restaurant business,” Garavini said.

German investigators have also traced ‘Ndrangheta money to the Frankfurt stock exchange.

Cisterna said the mafia bosses presented themselves in Germany as serious businessmen, when in fact they were laundering money.

“If they pay 700,000 euros (860,000 dollars) into the bank each day, nobody suspects a thing if they own, say, a supermarket – even if it does not sell anything,” the lawyer said, adding that Germany’s prosperity made the country ideal.

“The best place to hide a grain of corn is in a corn shed,” Cisterna added.

Garavini said the mafia felt safe in Germany, in the assumption that it would be harder to confiscate their assets outside of Italy. She appealed for lawmakers to make use of a new EU regulation which enabled investments to be seized abroad.

Doing so had helped to fight the mafia in Italy, Garavini told,italian-mafia-laundering-profits-in-germany-finds-conference.html