Toning down the violence, Italy's mafia has set its sights on EU cash

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By Giorgia Orlandi
Director of the Anti-mafia Investigation Directorate, Maurizio Vallone.
Director of the Anti-mafia Investigation Directorate, Maurizio Vallone.   -  Copyright  Giorgia Orlandi - Euronews

In the last few years, Italy's organised crime groups have become more business-oriented, helping cash-strapped companies to infiltrate the legal economy and make more money.

With Italy getting the largest share of the bloc's post-pandemic grants and loans, mafia-type organisations are starting to eye EU funds.

The director of the Anti-mafia Investigation Directorate, Maurizio Vallone, says the Italian mafia has changed a lot.

"There are less murders or shootings than there used to be in the past, less spreading of blood and much more infiltration in the legal economy," he told Euronews.

"We are talking about public tenders, entrepreneurship, and even in the public administration sector."

"Over the last six months, we have reported only two mafia-related murders. It has never happened in the past 30 years. It’s a record," Vallone added.

The coronavirus emergency increased the number of public tenders in several sectors, especially in healthcare.

"In an emergency situation when things need to get done quickly, checks on public tenders are being simplified and when that happens there's an increased risk that they are not being carried out in the right way. That allows businesses that have colluded with organised crime or that are managed directly by mobsters to enter such tenders," he declared.

This means challenges for organised crime investigators have become far greater than in the past.

"We have to implement the use of our intelligence to prevent such crimes. It's crucial to check every single tender and every company that wants to take part in them. Both when EU funds or national ones are being offered. That's necessary to assess the situation properly and avoid that mafia-related companies apply for these funds."

Police forces usually assess the winner of a tender before the tender even begins, but with struggling companies desperate for financial help, the need for tighter anti-mafia screenings on public works will be crucial to keep organised crime out of Italy’s road to recovery.