Italian police seize assets from mafia pensioners

2015-07-08 20:01


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - Italian authorities said on Wednesday they had seized assets worth more than €1.6 billion from a family of five Sicilian pensioners believed to have links to a prominent mafia clan.

The huge sweep of businesses, property and bank accounts "represents, in total value, one of the biggest seizures ever made", the anti-mafia department (DIA) said.

The haul belonged to Carmelo Virga, 66, his brothers Vincenzo, 78, and 71-year-old Francesco, and their sisters Anna, 76, and Rosa, 68.

The operation in Palermo was aimed at "known entrepreneurs from the Palermo area who belong to the Marineo mafia family, linked to the Corleone clan," the DIA said.

"Complex investigations have uncovered how the Virgas have benefited from the backing of the Cosa Nostra in the bidding for these works and public tenders in the construction sector," the DIA said.

The family "succeeded over time in developing and imposing their group of companies, by using the method known as 'Siino', which consists of organising cartels of entrepreneurs with a view to the 'directed' bidding for public tenders."

RaiNews reported that the family were all farm hands in the 1980s before becoming millionaires.

'Pizzo' mafia tax

Italian newspapers reported that the son of Carmelo Virga, Gaetano, has in recent years been a high-profile opponent of the Sicilian mafia's extortion of companies.

With the support of several anti-mafia groups, he strongly criticised the practice and evidence he gave has led to the arrest of several mafia chiefs in the region.

Gaetano Virga has told investigators that one of those mafia dons, Stefano Polizzi, came to the construction site where he worked in Marineo in 2010 to demand payment of the mafia tax known as "pizzo", telling him: "Remember that you have children."

Gaetano told investigators that the mafia chief went from his office to that of one of his uncles. But there was an altercation and Polizzi left, with the uncles claiming they had not paid a cent.

Assets seized from the mafia in Italy include farming land, luxury cars and bank accounts, trucks and chains of hotels.

After years of fighting the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples and the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Italian state now controls almost 3 000 companies and 12 000 property assets seized from the mafia.

The national agency that manages seized mafia assets also controls more than two billion euros in bank deposits and other assets.

Read more on:    mafia  |  italy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.