Wednesday

26th Jun 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“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.

Investigation

How the Italian mafia found a Dutch home

One of the biggest mafia trials in Europe in recent years is about to end. Members of the Crupi clan are accused of smuggling vast amounts of cocaine from South America to Italy, using the Netherlands as their main hub.

Italian refugee centre allegedly run by mafia

One of Italy's most powerful mafia syndicates, the 'Ndrangheta, allegedly stole over €32 million from a refugee centre run by a Catholic charity in southern Italy.

MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower

Ana Gomes, a socialist MEP from Portugal, has accused national authorities of erring on the side of corruption by detaining a whistleblower who helped expose tax evasion by some of Europe's biggest football stars.

News in Brief

  1. EU universities to share students, curricula
  2. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  3. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  4. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  5. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  6. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  7. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'
  8. Share trading ban looms as Swiss row with EU escalates

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us