In the morning of 18 October 2022, at the end of extensive investigations coordinated by the Prosecutor’s Office – Antimafia District Directorate in Venice – the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia and the Economic and Financial Unit of the Guardia di Finanza in Verona enforced four personal preventive measures and seized assets worth over 9 million euros, as ordered by the preliminary investigations judge (GIP) at the court in Venice.
The operation is still underway in Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Lombardy. It involves over 40 officers of the Guardia di Finanza and of the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia.
In particular, a pre-trail detention order was issued against three persons, two of whom were already in prison for other offences, and a fourth person was subject to the obligation to stay in the area of residence.
They are accused of tax offences, in particular, issuing and use of false invoices, money laundering and self-laundering, with the aggravating circumstance of the use of mafia methods and support to the activities of an ‘ndrangheta organized crime group.
9 million euros were seized from the persons under investigation, as profits of tax offences and money laundering.
The measures taken restricting personal liberty and the seizures carried out this morning are the follow-up of the investigations carried out by the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia on a mandate of the Prosecutor’s Office in Venice – Antimafia District Directorate. Investigations revealed that an ‘ndrangheta—style organised crime group was involved in the commission of a series of crimes. In particular, it came out that a company, managed by three persons, who were then arrested, was purposely used to issue invoices for inexistent operations, the beneficiaries of which were other companies linked to organised crime groups of Calabrian origin operating between VENETO and EMILIA ROMAGNA.
On the basis of the results of the previous investigation, further investigations were developed which documented the existence of other companies close to mafia-style organised crime groups (‘ndrangheta), interested in the execution of works – including public tenders – in the construction sector.
Further results, also confirmed by the statements made by a cooperating witness who was arrested within operation “AEMILIA”, coordinated by the Antimafia District Directorate in Bologna, led to the opening of a new criminal proceeding and to the carrying out of wide-ranging bank checks of the companies involved in public works. These investigations, carried out together with the Guardia di Finanza and the Provincial Command in Verona, were focused on attempts of infiltration in the construction sector in Veneto by “ndrangheta locali belonging in particular to the “ARENA-NICOSIA” cosca, operating in Isola di Capo Rizzuto (KR).
In-depth checks carried out by the officers of the Economic and Financial Unit of the Guardia di Finanza in Verona – accounting checks, financial investigations, cross-checks, checks on social security contributions for workers, comparison with money laundering evidence and mapping of company profit sharing – and parallel fiscal investigations, highlighted that some companies were somehow linked to the ’ndrangheta and that there were some fictitious relations between the companies in order to carry out works or to provide services. Such checks also revealed that the financial flows were destined for companies with headquarters in Calabria close to crime groups.
The affected parties are suspected of money laundering (art.648-bis c.p.), self-laundering (art.648-ter 1 c.p.), issuing and use of invoices for inexistent operations (art. 2 and 8 DLGS 74/2000), with the aggravating circumstance of the mafia method (art.7 d.l. 152/91, now art.416-bis.1 c.p.) having acted on behalf of the ‘ndrangheta locali.
It is worth stressing that the personal preventive measures taken fall within the preliminary investigation stage and are based on temporary charges that must be confirmed during cross-examination and the following trial stages. The criminal liability shall be established only at the end of the trial by irrevocable judgement. Article 27 of the Italian Constitution guarantees that the accused shall be presumed innocent until final decision.
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