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Thailand arrests Vito Roberto Palazzolo, 'South African' mafia banker wanted in Italy

Vito Roberto Palazzolo, a Sicilian mafia banker wanted in Italy, has been arrested in Thailand.

Italy: credit dries up so the Mafia steps in

Report claims organized crime has become the main lender to Italy's small and medium sized businesses.
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Naples crime boss Michele Zagaria following his arrest last month. That's not likely to put a crimp in Italian organized crime's profitable loan sharking activities as desperate small businesses turn to the mob as Italian banks have switched off the credit pump. (ROBERTO SALOMONE/AFP/Getty Images)

As many as 200,000 businesses may have taken loans from the Mafia to stay in business, according to a report issued by the Italian business organization, Confesercenti, working with the Sicily-based anti-Mafia group SOS Impresa. It claimed that the Mafia had now become Italy's main source of loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

According to the report, organized crime has an annual turnover of 140 billion euros ($178.9 billion) of which 100 billion euros is profit. The liquidity of various criminal groups is now financing Italy's small businesses as banks have stopped lending to them.

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