Sunday

4th Dec 2016

Immigration centres are new cash cow for Italian mafia

Italian police on Wednesday (3 December) uncovered a mafia network in Rome said to have extorted millions of euros from programmes designed to help the city’s most vulnerable.

Thirty-seven people have already been arrested in a scheme that targeted immigrants and the Roma.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“We have identified the criminal organisation that we call Mafia Capitale, which is Roman, without links to other southern mafias, but uses mafia methods,” announced Rome’s chief prosecutor.

The scam has reached the highest echelons of local government.

Italian news agency Ansa reports Rome’s former centre-right mayor Gianni Alemanno is among the 100 or so under investigation.

Alemanno, who was Rome’s mayor until June last year, allegedly received some €40,000 in kick-backs from a mob group spearheaded by Massimo Carminati, a former member of the far-right terror group NAR

Alemanno denies any wrongdoing.

But magistrates has so far seized some €200 million in assets in a racket that largely targeted immigrant and refugee reception centres.

The more traditional cash cows of the criminal gang like drugs, waste management, recycling and parks maintenance, were no longer seen as profitable.

"Do you have any idea how much I make on these immigrants?," Carminati’s second-in-command, Salvatore Buzzi, was overhead saying in a 2013 wire-tapped recording.

"We closed this year with a turnover of €40 million but ... our profits all came from the gypsies [Roma people], on the housing emergency and on the immigrants," he says.

"Drug trafficking is not as profitable,” he said, adding that they didn’t make any money in other sectors.

Ansa reports a cabinet secretary under the former center-left mayor Walter Veltroni coordinated the immigration scheme with the mob group.

The probe doesn’t end there.

According to the Independent newspaper, Rome’s very own anti-corruption tsar, Italo Walter Politano, may have also been implicated.

Rome’s current centre-left mayor Ignazio Marino had appointed Politano to the post.

Italy accommodation standards plummet

Accommodation standards for asylum seekers in Italy has steadily worsened over the recent years, according to a special commission in the Italian senate for protection and promotion of human rights.

“In Italy from 2011 a progressive deterioration of the accommodation standards for asylum seekers has been registered, which has worsened since 2012 and 2013,” it noted last year.

The conditions are so bad that administrative courts in Germany have suspended transfers to Italy “owing notably to the risk of homelessness and a life below minimum subsistence standards,” according to a report by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

Italy, for its part, also has no structural legislation on reception conditions and no uniform reception system.

Some 28,000 first instance asylum applicants were made in Italy last year.

The latest spate of mafia revelations comes on the heel of an annual corruption perception index report by Transparency International.

Among the EU countries, Italy ranks last and on par with Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security