'Ndrangheta mafia family makes more money than McDonald's and Deutsche Bank combined, report claims

Warnings that Mob’s influence is spreading overseas

Rome

One of Italy’s most notorious mafia groups made more money last year than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank put together, a study has claimed.

A report by the Demoskopika research institute in Rome has said that the annual turnover of the 'Ndrangheta organised crime syndicate was around €53bn – the equivalent to about 2.5% of Italy’s GDP.

The size of the profits, based on the mafia’s traditional money-spinners including drug dealing, illegal rubbish disposal, extortion, embezzlement, arms sales, prostitution and people-smuggling, make the crime family bigger than numerous global conglomerates.

The claims also highlight concerns that mafia groups’ power and influence is rising unchecked – with some warning the Mob is increasingly spreading its tendrils overseas. The ‘Ndrangheta is thought to have around 60,000 people worldwide involved in its activities, the report said

Giovanni Brauzzi, the security policy director at the Italian foreign ministry, said of the international dimension of Italian organised crime groups: “They invest only 10 per cent of this budget in Italy; the rest they invest in countries in Europe and elsewhere. They have good friends everywhere.”

Organised crime has infiltrated “the most important companies working in financial transactions,” added Mr Brauzzi. “Corruption is the easiest way of doing business in their framework,” he said.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels, Mr Brauzzi claimed that, with an annual income in excess of €200bn, the combined turnover of all the country’s mafia groups had exceeded that of the entire European Union budget.

The news comes as the centre-right Forza Italia party, led by disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was this week accused of trying to kill a bill aimed at halting the Mafia’s ability to sell votes in the south of Italy to corrupt politicians.

The money-for-votes racket is a key means by which the Mafia earns money and maintains power and influence.

The legislation, which has already passed through the Senate, aims to make vote rigging in collusion with the Mafia a criminal offence. But it is at risk of being smothered by 1,000 or so amendments from Forza Italia MPs.

Rosy Bindi, the centre-left head of the parliamentary anti-Mafia commission attacked the centre-right’s tactics. “This is very serious. We are one step away from a reform that has been long awaited,” she said.

The latest estimate of mob income is up 42 per cent from the 2012 figure produced by the Confesercenti employers organisation, which in 2012 claimed that the Mafia generated an annual turnover of €140bn.

The 2012 Confesercenti report, entitled SOS Impresa (SOS Enterprise), said a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses were coming into contact with Mafia which it described as the “biggest bank” in the country with €65bn in liquidity.

The long and brutal recession combined with the reluctance of Italy’s conservative banks to lend money, has seen many more businesses turn to organised crime for help, experts have warned. In October last year a report underlined the how the failure to adequately scrutinise the awarding of public contracts was also swelling Mafia coffers.

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