- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The Italian mafia doesn’t exactly have the best environmental record. This is an organization, after all, whose idea of "waste management" involves dumping hundreds of barrels of toxic waste into the Mediterranean. But now, it seems, even the wise guys are going green.
In the largest Mafia seizure of all time, Italian authorities have confiscated $1.9 billion dollars in assets and revealed that they plan to launder assets through alternative energy projects like wind and solar:
At the center of the investigation was Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, 54, a man known as the "Lord of the Wind" because of his vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, mostly wind farms.
General Antonio Girone, head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said Nicastri was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, believed to be Mafia’s current "boss of bosses." Investigators said Nicastri’s companies ran numerous wind farms as well as factories that produced solar energy panels.
"It’s no surprise that the Sicilian Mafia was infiltrating profitable areas like wind and solar energy," Palermo magistrate Francesco Messineo told a news conference.
Officials said the operation was based on a 2,400-page investigative report and followed the arrest of Nicastri last year. Senator Costantino Garraffa, a member of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the "new economy," of alternative energy as it sought out virgin ventures to launder money from drugs and other rackets.
Lord of the Wind?