Published on 13 Mar 2008 by Alison
You may have thought that the mafia culture in Italy was a thing of the past, or something mythologized in America through films such as the Godfather, or more recently the television series The Sopranos. But the Calabrian version of the mafia, the ‘ndrangheta, is showing just how to hoodwink a government.
Recently processes have been underway to discover how, on the 16th of January this year, 13 million euro went missing from the Ministry of State Schooling, destined as a bonus for families. The first stop on the trail of the money was in the accounts of a company purportedly to have a bar in Bologna’s city centre.
Unfortunately though, the bar doesn’t exist and neither does the company, and the account was opened with false documents. With Interpol and a special branch of the Italian police on the scent, the fake account took them to Cairo, Egypt and a company called “Egyptians for Investments and Tourism”. Waiting for the right move, they managed to engender a withdrawal of 50,000 euro and so freeze the account.
At this point in our story, a great arm wrestle between the Ministry and the Italian postal system breaks out. The minister is asking that all the money be given back, and in the end we’re only talking about a measly 13 million euro from citizens’ pockets. The watchdog for government spending is investigating the eventual responsibility of Italy’s post (where the fake account was opened), saying “there is the possibility of delivering the money when the international process is complete”. In the meantime though, no money has so far been handed over. While waiting for the appearance of the money, let’s see who the perpetrators are. And surprise surprise…
The trail from the Roman ministery, the Bolognese bar and the Egyptian company finishes in Calabria. The police in fact, are investigating some suspicious white collars who recycle money for the Ndrangheta. Who exactly is involved, how they embezzled the cash, and what links they have with the ministery have yet to be seen. Meanwhile the Post has stated that “no information fraud has occurred”, while the investigators talk of alterations to information procedures to move the sum from the Ministery’s account to the Egyptian one. While we think of mafiosa revenge a la the Godfather, it appears as though the Ndrangheta organisation continues unperturbed, undertaking its operations over the internet these days.