OPERATION “VENTO DEL SUD” (CONFISCATION OF ASSETS – NICASTRI VITO)
In July 2010, the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia submitted a proposal to the Court in Trapani to apply personal and asset-related preventive measures against Vito NICASTRI, a well-known entrepreneur from Alcamo, operating in the renewable energies, with particular reference to wind and photovoltaic energy.
The request aimed at attacking the entire patrimony of a person who has gone down in the news as “the king of wind power” (the Financial Times defined him as “the Lord of the Wind”) and who was considered to be one of the main financial sources of the notorious fugitive boss of Cosa Nostra, Matteo MESSINA DENARO.
Though with autonomous patterns of development, the request was inspired by the results of previous investigations, including, above all, those related to the so-called operation Vento del Sud, coordinated by the Anti-Mafia District Direction of Palermo and aimed at ascertaining the link between NICASTRI, his business group and organized crime.
These investigations, in fact, had outlined the role of NICASTRI as a stakeholder of Cosa Nostra in the field of renewable energies and as a link between the entrepreneurial world and the political one within a system of corruption and bribes aimed at obtaining public funding for the realization of the plants.
As a result of the proposal submitted by the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia, the Court of Trapani immediately ordered the seizure of the assets, worth over one and a half billion euros, consisting of about one hundred properties, thirty-five companies and considerable financial assets. The order was executed in September 2010.
The seizure was followed, in August 2015, by an order of confiscation by the Judicial Authority. Upon request of the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia, the Judicial Authority also ordered the application of the personal preventive measure of public security special surveillance with the obligation to stay in the municipality of residence for three years.
Within the anti-mafia case-law, this activity is considered a textbook case, since the results achieved by the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia have also allowed, at an investigative level, to make a clear distinction, in its strict legal sense, between “participation”, intended as persons who fulfill a role in the criminal association, and “membership”, understood as a condition of contiguity to the organization. Indeed, as a condition for the application of an antimafia preventive measures, the law-maker also set conducts which, though not consituting the offence of mafia association, are functional to the interests of the criminal powers and constitute a sort of breeding ground for mafia culture.