Mafia takes hold in Italy’s solar, wind sector

Source: ,Washington Post, Jan. 22 • Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sting operations have linked Italy’s Mafia to the country’s wind and solar energy industries.

In the past decade, Sicily has become a key player for renewable energy. The island receives more sun and wind than other areas of Italy, and the government offered subsidies worth billions of euros in order to boost the industry.

The industry’s profitability did not go unnoticed by Sicily’s crime families, also known as the Cosa Nostra.

In the past month, Italian officials have conducted sting operations, which resulted in the seizure by authorities of a third of Sicily’s 30 wind farms. More than $2 billion in assets for the renewable energy sector has been frozen, and prosecutors believe the Mafia may be involved in other similar projects around the country.

“The Cosa Nostra is adapting, acquiring more advanced knowledge in new areas like renewable energy that have become more profitable because of government subsidies,” said Teresa Maria Principato, deputy prosecutor for the Anti-Mafia Squad. “It is casting a shadow over our renewables industry.

Indeed, a wiretapped conversation between one Sicilian entrepreneur and an alleged Mafia boss shows they recognized the benefits of becoming involved with the industry.

“Uncle Vincenzo, for the love of our sons, renewable energy is important,” businessman Angelo Salvatore told Vincenzo Funari, the alleged head of the Gimbellina crime family. “It’s a business we can live on” (Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, Jan. 22). — JE