Italian mafia revenues much lower than thought: study

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:17pm EST
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By Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's organized crime networks take in around 10.5 billion euros ($13.96 billion) a year, a fraction of previous estimates of their turnover, a government-funded report said on Wednesday.

Mafia revenues amounted to around 0.7 percent of Italy's gross domestic product, the Transcrime research centre said in its paper - much lower than a study by Milan's Bocconi university last year that said criminal activity was responsible for about 10.9 percent.

"Crime pays much less than is thought. We need to debunk the idea that organized crime has a turnover of 10 percent of GDP," Transcrime head Ernesto Savona told a conference on the findings.

Savona did not give reasons for the differences in the figures but said past studies had not given full details of the methods used to make their estimates.

His centre, based at Milan's Cattolica university, had used criminal justice statistics, money laundering and tax evasion data, law enforcement reports and figures on asset seizures, he added.

The mafia still posed a significant challenge, delegates at the conference said, and was moving beyond its southern stronghold to beef up its presence in the north, including Milan's Lombardy region which accounts for about a fifth of Italian GDP.

"A blood sucker goes where the blood is, and the money is here (in Milan)," the deputy head of Italy's police Alessandro Marangoni said on the sidelines of the conference.