New Mafia group sweeps across Rome sucking hundreds of millions of euros out of Italy's near-bankrupt capital

Citizens stunned by levels of corruption allegedly involving the collusion of police and secret services

Even by Rome’s standards the tsunami of sleaze that has swept over the eternally corrupt city in the past 48 hours has left its weary citizens slack-jawed in disbelief.

Roman prosecutors have seized a former terrorist and dozens of associates whom they claim have formed a new Mafia group that has sucked hundreds of millions of euros out of the near-bankrupt capital.

It wasn’t a shock that politicians, officials and businessmen were on the make. But it’s claimed they were directed by a newly formed Mafia headed by a one-eyed, former neo-fascist who enjoyed, according to some reports, the collusion of police and secret services.

“We have identified the criminal organisation that we call Mafia Capitale, which is Roman, without links to other southern Mafias, but uses Mafia methods,” said Rome’s chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone, after he ordered 37 arrests today. Among those held was Massimo Carminati, a former member of the far-right terror group NAR. Prosecutors believe he was leading the group.

Hundreds of others are under investigation, as police seek to establish how far the system of corrupt contracts – including those for migrant reception centres – bribes, kickbacks and extortion has entered the city’s politics, business and administration. Magistrates seized around €200m (£157m) in assets. Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome until June last year, was among those placed under formal investigation for Mafia association and corruption. The Ansa news agency reported that New Italia Foundation, of which Mr Alemanno is president, had received a payment of around €40,000 from Carminati. “I will show I have nothing to do with this,” said Mr Alemanno, 56.

It emerged that Rome’s anti-corruption tsar, Italo Walter Politano, is one of those being investigated for suspected links to Mafia Capitale. He was appointed by Ignazio Marino, the current centre-left Mayor.

Video: Recruits for the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate

Mr Marino said he would fight corruption: “I’ve said and I repeat, that we have barricaded the door to vested interests and murky deals.”

Earlier this year it emerged that a €20bn hole had opened up in the city’s accounts after decades of incompetence and corruption. The city only avoided shutdown thanks to a last-minute cash injection from central government. But then Rome has been bailed out by central government every year since 2008.

In numbers

1 Former Mayor under investigation

37 Arrests this week 

100 Suspects in the corruption inquiry

€200m Assets seized today

€20bn Hole in Rome’s accounts after decades of corruption

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