But stopped in time
Organised crime syndicates won contracts worth some €100 million for Expo 2015 work in Milan, but 46 competing companies were blocked in 2014 by the prefecture.
This was revealed in the annual report of the activity of the National Antimafia Directorate (DNA), presented in Rome on Tuesday by chief anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti.
“Milan prefecture issued 46 interdictions against companies holding contracts and sub-contracts for work on or connected to Expo 2015, for a total value of 100 million,” said Roberti. And he continued: “In this serious context of mafia proximity, it is striking that – apart from 11 companies based in the south (one in Campania, six in Calabria and four in Sicily) – the other 35 companies all had their head offices in northern Italy,” of which 20 were based in Lombardy, nine in Emilia Romagna and three in Piedmont.
The prosecutor also reported that 32 of these companies turned out to have been infiltrated by the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabria-based mafia, and were therefore blocked. This confirms, he stated, the ability of the Calabrian crime syndicates in infiltrating and putting down roots in the economic environment of areas far from their origins, which were once believed to have “antibodies” able to resist criminal pressure.
The worst-hit sector was that of roads and similar infrastructure, the report continued, in which the majority of the blocked companies were active. That was probably due, according to Roberti, to the difficulty faced by investigators in checking construction sites often many kilometres long. This was also borne out by the fact that most of the contracts won by infected companies were for sums of €150,000 or less, chosen because they were less likely to attract undue attention and checks.
The report presented on Tuesday stated that the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra is “not in decline” and that the ‘Ndrangheta is consolidating its presence in the north, from Lombardi where its power is “worrying” to Bologna, “mafia country”, as well as in its more traditional home ground like Calabria’s port of Gioia Tauro, where its presence was “total”.
The DNA activity report confirms the warning issued last month by the president of Milan’s Appeals Court, in which judge Giovanni Canzio describe the situation in Lombardy as going beyond mafia infiltration, and amounting to occupation.