PREVENTIVE INVESTIGATIONS TO COMBAT ILLICITLY GAINED ASSETS
The focus of mafia crime is to illicitly get as much liquidity as it needs to invest in corporate estate assets, to deposit in bank accounts, to purchase luxury items, including, as it emerged from investigations, pieces of art. Following the money trail, documenting payments, money exchanges, investments are tools to combat mafia-type crime and its power. Cosa nostra, ‘ndrangheta, camorra, sacra corona unita and mafia-type groups, illicitly gain assets to invest, in a later phase, in the legal economy, devastating healthy economy, society, politics, public administration, i.e. any institutions. In his book “Cose di Cosa Nostra”, Giovanni Falcone stated: “The Mafia is not a cancer that just happens to spread through healthy tissue. It lives in perfect symbiosis with the myriad of protectors, accomplices, informers and debtors of all kinds, large and small, the big powers, the intimidated and blackmailed people who belong to every level of society’.
Seizure and confiscation are thus necessary to attack illicitly gained assets and the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia is the core of such activities, carrying out investigations on its own initiative or by proxy of the investigating judicial authority. Legislative Decree no. 159/2011: “Code of the Antimafia laws and preventive measures”, outlines, among other things, preventive measures on assets (seizure and confiscation), highlighting that such measures shall be taken if there is well-grounded evidence of closeness to a mafia-type organization. To this end, the main objectives of the analysis carried out by the DIA are the following:
– to widen and update knowledge on mafia-crime groups, reporting their operational activity;
– to follow the money trail coming from illicitly gained assets, which is reinvested in real estate assets, companies, luxury items, commercial and business activities;
– to assess the impact of counteraction on assets and activities of the criminal syndicates.
As a result, to combat mafia, the DIA, in agreement with the District Antimafia Prosecutor’s Offices and in cooperation with foreign counterparts pursue the following main objectives:
to detect and seize/confiscate illicitly gained assets, financial and entrepreneurial structures;
to prevent and combat mafia infiltration attempts in public tenders and to detect money laundering trails.
Within preventive investigations, interdiction measures play a core role in analysing the data gathered and supporting the authorities involved in monitoring activity, mainly the Prefects at local level, who are responsible for evaluating the info-investigative outcomes of the monitoring bodies and issuing the antimafia documents. In order to deprive mafia syndicates of their illicitly gained assets, proposals on personal and preventive measures are submitted to the competent courts – personal and asset-related preventive measures – for possible seizure and confiscation.
As an example, mention should be made of the following recent and largest confiscations: in February 2019, 80 million euros were confiscated from a person close to the mafia family in Montelepre (PA); in March 2019 in the area of Trapani, about 45 million euros were confiscated from an entrepreneur close to members of the VIRGA and MELODIA families. In July 2019, 6.3 million euros were confiscated from a member with criminal records from Calabria, who belonged to the GRANDE ARACRI cosca. In November 2019, 20 million euros were confiscated from an entrepreneur from Palermo who dealt with the food sector and was close to cosa nostra from Corleone; in the same month, 32 million euros were confiscated from another entrepreneur who belonged to the BARCELLONESE mafia syndicate from Messina; in February 2020 over 6 million euros were confiscated from a member of the CASALESI clan from the area of Caserta. Always in that area, further 6 million euros were confiscated from a person close to the BELFORTE clan; in April 2020, about 18 million euros were confiscated from an entrepreneur from Palermo who was a member of the NOCE family.