Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sicilian Mafia Benefiting From EU 'Green Energy' Subsidies & Grants

Windmills in the Sicilian village of Patirnico- AFP Photo
Several shell companies controlled by the Sicilian and Calabrian mafia are fraudulently obtaining grants from the European Union and using 'green' energy projects to launder money, according to Italian officials and EU auditors.

Sicilian mafia turncoat Anthony Birrittella said that he and other organized crime figures viewed the EU funds as 'A gift to the mafia' and easy pickings.

"First the Mafia had an interest in many of the companies which obtained public funds, and they owned many of the companies which won the contracts to build wind farms, and finally they claimed fake transactions and issued double payment invoices." He says the organisation used intimidation to obtain the plots of land it needed to build the wind farms, and threatened any construction firms who refused to pay its extortion fees. "It started with arson on their premises or building sites, burning their trucks and machinery. That was followed up with threatening phone calls. At that point they usually got what they wanted."
Among the assets seized in what Italian authorities called a 'record' anti-mafia sweep in September were more than 40 wind and solar energy companies registered in Sicily and Calabria.

The rapid growth of wind power in southern Italy has been fuelled in large part by generous government subsidies. The seizure of the mob-controlled 'green' energy companies confirms to Italian officals that the Cosa Nostra and 'Ndrangheta crime syndicates breaking into the new 'green' economy as a means of laundering the profits from their other criminal enterprises.

[Hat tip: Friends of Ours; Cross Posted at Not Another New England Sports Blog!]