Italian court orders €1.3bn in mafia assets to be seized from Sicily’s' 'Lord of the wind' Vito Nicastri



An Italian court ordered €1.3bn in mafia assets to be seized from Sicily’s “Lord of the wind” today – the largest such confiscation in the country’s history.

The court in Trapani ordered the record amount of assets – which included dozens of alternative energy companies – to be taken from Vito Nicastri, a businessman with known links to the Sicilian Mafia, which is also known as the Cosa Nostra.

Nicastri, who earned his nickname through his interests in vast wind farms, invested money made from extortion, drug sales and other illegal activities for the Sicilian Mafia's most sought-after fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro, who is believed to be the Cosa Nostra’s head boss.

In 2010, it emerged that Cosa Nostra was attempting to take millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union by snatching the generous grants on offer for investment in wind power and environmentally-friendly business.

General Antonio Girone, then head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said Mr Nicastri had built up a huge alternative energy business at the behest of the organised crime syndicate.

In addition to halting the giant eco-scam, Italian prosecutors said the seizure of 66 bank accounts, as well as property and businesses, would be another body blow to Cosa Nostra’s leadership, which is already reeling from dozens of high-profile arrests in the past ten years.

The assets grab is part of investigators’ “scorched earth” policy aimed at draining Denaro's resources and “exposing him,” police said. Assets were also seized in Lazio and Calabria, and the northern region of Lombardy.

“With this action we are continuing to burn the land around the leading figures in organised crime,” said Arturo de Felice, director of the Anti-Mafia Investigations Directorate (Dia).

Denaro, nicknamed 'Diabolik' after a cult Italian comic strip criminal, earned a reputation for brutality by murdering a rival Trapani boss and strangling his girlfriend who was three months pregnant.

He became the number one boss in the Cosa Nostra following the capture of Palermo mobster Salvatore Lo Piccolo in November 2007.

Over the past decade, thanks to generous subsidies, wind farms in Italy have grown by 20 per cent per year, and the Sicily mafia soon plugged into this new source of income.

Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera, said he hoped wind power was here to stay, but he warned that vigilance for possible involvement for organised crime must continue.

ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform