Mafia will chase EU recovery aid after the pandemic, warns Carabinieri chief

Italian anti-Mafia investigators warned on Friday that mobsters will be looking for ways to access the hundreds of billions of euros in European Union recovery aid after the pandemic, AP Europe reports.

As EU country leaders were huddling in Brussels about the amount and conditions for aid, the paramilitary general heading said

Carabinieri Gen. Giuseppe Governale, head of Italy’s anti-Mafia investigative agency DIA, told RAI state TV that mobsters are already mapping strategies to tap into some of that money, including through corruption or exploiting the country’s notoriously slow, inefficient bureaucracy.

“Hundreds of billions of euros will pour into Europe and Italy, and at this point, the Mafia won’t stand around and watch,″ he said. ”The Mafia will dive into this sea”.

Italy’s crime syndicates have often used intimidation or connivance to win public works contracts in the country.

As a measure of how mobsters influence local authorities who award such lucrative contracts, DIA’s nearly 900-page, semi-annual report to Parliament on the state of the country’s crime syndicates noted that more than 50 municipal governments in Italy — mostly in the south, mobsters’ traditional power bases, but also as far north as the Alps — are currently being run by local prefects, after investigators determined that crime bosses had conditioned elected town officials.

The report reviewed investigations against organized crime in the last six months of 2019. But with much of Europe struggling to regain its economic footing after months of coronavirus lockdown, the DIA decided to sound an alarm that EU funds will be seen as manna for Italy’s mobsters, who in the last few decades have already heavily infiltrated the country’s economy.

With Italy’s economy stagnant for years even before the pandemic, mobsters have used many of their billions of euros in cocaine and other drug trafficking revenues to buy up struggling hotels, pharmacies, restaurants, car dealerships and clothing shops. In particular the ’ndrangheta, considered Italy’s most powerful crime syndicate and one of the world’s major criminal organisations, is well positioned to go on a buying spree, especially considering tourism and retail sectors have been devastated by the lockdown.

“The international economy will need liquidity, and in this, the clans will go compete with the markets in need of substantial financial infusions,” DIA’s report said.

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