Expo and mafia: Milan police arrest 11

Tax evasion and recycling: “millions seized”.

Milan Finance Guards have arrested 11 members of an organised crime syndicate accused of criminal association, false invoicing and money laundering through a company involved, among other contracts, in building four pavilions at Expo Milano 2015 – France, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and the Birra Poretti sponsor.

The company – a wholly-owned offshoot of Fiera Milano called Nolostand – has been placed under controlled administration, while “several million” euros were seized.

The accused are all members or affiliates of a Cosa Nostra mafia family based in Enna province in Sicily. They reportedly transported some €20m over three years to the island in plastic bags, suitcases, and even in an inflatable canoe.

No arrest warrants were issued for staff of Expo 2015 or of Fiera Milano, the parent company which also organises the BIT tourism fair. But the district prosecutor’s report mentioned “serious superficiality” in managing the contracts: “it is clear that a mechanism such as that uncovered during the investigation was made possible by managers of companies of no mean size, consultants, notaries and accountants who, ultimately, did not wish to see what was going on around them; for some of them, given their professional role, one can glimpse behaviour going beyond connivance.”

Among those arrested was lawyer Danilo Tipo, former president of the Penal Chamber of Caltanisetta, Sicily, a defence counsel in major mafia trials and a former town councillor.

Previous investigations into organised crime infiltration in Lombardy have been focused on the ‘Ndrangheta syndicate from Calabria.