Mafia got quake rebuilding deals

2010-07-22 19:25

Rome - Members of Italy's Camorra mafia won contracts to rebuild the quake-hit city of L'Aquila with the help of four bank employees, police charged on Thursday after carrying out six arrests.

In an operation codenamed "Untouchable", police also seized 21 businesses, 118 buildings and other property worth a total of around €100m, the police statement said.

Those arrested are thought to be involved in the financial operations of the Casalesi clan, one of the Camorra's most powerful, based in Caserta near Naples.

They have ties to the Rome area, northern Tuscany as well as L'Aquila's Abruzzo region in central Italy, police said.

Phone taps caught the suspects arranging money transfers to finance businesses created in L'Aquila in order to obtain lucrative contracts to rebuild the devastated medieval walled city, police said.

The bank employees are accused of abetting the suspects by providing financing while ignoring procedures to prevent money laundering, notably by not flagging suspicious activity, police said.

The earthquake in L'Aquila on April 6 2009 claimed 308 lives.

Some 120 000 people were affected by the quake in and around L'Aquila, and tens of thousands are still living in hotels, barracks and makeshift apartments built by the government.