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Italy's white-collar mafia

How the Italian mafia turned from massacres to stealth operations and political infiltrations.

“At this point, they don’t need bombs anymore,” said Luigi De Magistris, president of the Committee for Budget Control in the European Parliament. “Today’s Mafia are people with college degree; we call them the white-collar Mafia. They are professionals in jacket and tie who understand finance and sit at the same table with politicians and businessmen — it’s a devastating system."

De Magistris was forced to quit the magistrature in 2008 when two of his investigations exposed members of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government. He spent most of his career tracing how the Mafia secures European Union funds by using clean companies as a facade.

Italy has the highest incidence of fiscal frauds against the EU, and current Italian fiscal law is as responsible for this phenomenon, De Magistris said.

Last year, the Berlusconi government passed a Fiscal Shield law that guarantees anonymity for offshore account holders who re-introduce their capital into the country. Once it re-enters as legal assets, it remains impossible to trace.

Forgione estimates that the 'Ndrangheta alone makes between 100 and 150 billion euros a year. “Of all that money, at least 70 billion is laundered to become part of the Italian GDP,” Forgione said.