Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Italy remains true to its heritage

The new Italian government is working tirelessly to avoid an economic collapse. Whether signore Monti will succeed, remains to be seen. However, one cannot blame the Italians for failing to remain true to their heritage:

It was once confined to the sun-baked, sleepy south of Italy but the mafia is now the country's biggest business enterprise, with an annual turnover of €140bn (£116bn), according to an authoritative report.

The country's four mafia groups have broken out of their traditional strongholds in the dusty 'Mezzogiorno' south of Rome and spread their tentacles across the whole country, taking advantage of the economic crisis to snap up ailing businesses and ramp up their loan-shark operations.
They now boast estimated cash reserves of €65bn, collectively making them "Italy's biggest bank", according to a study released on Tuesday by Confesercenti, a prominent employers' association.
The groups make an estimated annual profit of €100bn – about 7pc of Italy's GDP.

Read the entire article here

Frau Merkel and all the other bigwigs in Brussels have repeatedly urged the Italians to adopt the new EU agenda, including a strong commitment to renewable energy. And that is exactly what the country´s biggest enterprise has been doing:

September, Italian police confiscated their largest ever collection of mafia assets when they seized assets worth $1.9 billion from a Sicilian businessman named Vito Nicastri. The haul included 43 wind and solar companies and around 100 properties, including luxury villas in western Sicily. Nicastri, known as "The Lord of the Wind" because he was the island's largest developer of wind farms, had been arrested the year before and accused of ties to Matteo Messina Denaro, a man believed to be the head of the Sicilian mafia.

Unlike the mob's usual criminal activities — trafficking in arms or drugs, investments in real estate, waste management and construction — the renewable-energy sector requires technical prowess. Which is why the mafia seems to have mainly taken on the role of middle man: arranging contracts, buying up land, organizing government permissions, snatching up the construction contracts. The overheated demand caused by subsidies has brought in financial speculation — some 90% of the authorizations to build power plants are subsequently sold — making the market particularly permeable to organized crime.

Read the entire article here

Reaping the benefits of free trade has been another catchword in the new Italian business drive:

The Italian fraud squad recently announced they were investigating allegations that the country's largest olive oil producers have adulterated Italian oil with cheaper imports from Spain, Greece, Morocco and Tunisia.
Mueller found that fraud was extensive, particularly adulteration and false labelling. The world's largest former dealer in olive oil, one Domenico Ribatti, plea-bargained his way to 13 months in prison during the 1990s for passing off Turkish hazelnut oil, which he had refined in his own plant, as olive oil. Another prominent importer, Leonardo Marseglia – appropriately based in a town called Monopoli – has variously been accused of selling cheap non-European oils as Italian ones, fudging documents to shirk import tariffs and forming a criminal network to smuggle contraband. Marseglia has denied the charges.
A 2007 EU investigation found that 95% of all known misappropriations of EU agricultural subsidies occurred in Italy, telling us something of the culture in which Italian olive oil fraud was taking place.

Read the entire article here


On 20 January the ruling EU duumvirate Merkozy will arrive in Italy in order to learn more about the exciting new developments taking place in the midst of economic doom and gloom in Europe.
Hopefully they will not fail to express their gratitude to signore Monti´s predecessor, who´s contribution to the Italian heritage project should not be forgotton.

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