Monday, May 4, 2009

Mafia link to Sicily wind farms probed

Update: More Mafia news here.
Original post:
Reporting from Palermo. Might be time to mosey up to Rome.
Or Norway.
From the Financial Times:

By Guy Dinmore in Palermo, Italy

Published: May 4 2009 19:01 | Last updated: May 4 2009 19:01

Anti-Mafia magistrates in Sicily have opened a sweeping investigation into the wind power sector where local officials, entrepreneurs and crime gangs are suspected of collusion in the construction of lucrative wind farms before their eventual sale to multinational companies.

Italian and EU subsidies for the building of wind farms and the world’s highest guaranteed rates, €180 ($240, £160) per kwh, for the electricity they produce have turned southern Italy into a highly attractive market exploited by organised crime.

Roberto Scarpinato, a veteran anti-Mafia prosecutor in the regional capital Palermo, told the Financial Times that his investigation, which began last week, was focused on the three large provinces of Palermo, Trapani and Agrigento.

An earlier investigation into a case near Trapani in western Sicily resulted in eight arrests in February, leading to accusations of a suspected nexus between a leading Mafia family that offered money and votes in exchange for permits to construct wind farms.

“Operation Wind” revealed Mafia promises to local officials in Mazara del Vallo of money and votes in exchange for help in approving wind farm projects.

The Mafia suspects were alleged to be linked to Matteo Messina “Diabolik” Denaro, a fugitive clan boss on ltaly’s most wanted list.

Prosecutors suspect the hand of the Mafia in fixing permits and building wind farms that are then sold on to Italian and eventually foreign companies.

In an effort to assert its control over the sector, the Mafia is suspected of destroying two wind towers that were in storage in the port of Trapani after their delivery by ship from northern Europe, local officials told the FT....MORE

Note to Italian investigators: Unless you are trying to smoke out a mole, Operation Wind is not a good codename.

Sort of like calling Operation Overlord "Operation Invade Fortress Europe via Normandy on June 6, 1944". The key part of the term is "code".

We had the story of the initial arrests in February's "Italy police arrest 8 in Mafia wind farms plot".