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Police seize 51 mn from 'Mafia-linked' firm

Owned by well-known entrepreneur in Palermo

06 December, 18:42
Police seize 51 mn from 'Mafia-linked' firm (ANSA) - Palermo, December 6 - Finance police on Friday seized 51 million euros in real estate and assets from a well-known family of entrepreneurs in Palermo on suspicion they were linked with Mafia bosses including Matteo Messina Denaro, a fugitive for the past 20 years suspected of being the current chief of Cosa Nostra.

Mario Niceta, 71, is at the helm of a family business, together with sons Massimo and Pietro and daughter Olimpia, which owns several stores in Palermo and Trapani, Sicily.

Prosecutors with Palermo's anti-Mafia investigative unit (DDA) believe their company, which is reportedly one of Sicily's leading clothing and jewellery retailers, was linked since the 1980s to two Mafia dons, brothers Giuseppe and Filippo Guttadauro, with joint enterprises in the areas of Palermo and Trapani.

Filippo Guttadauro is the brother-in-law of fugitive boss Denaro, wanted among other things for his role in the murder of the 13-year-old son of a mobster-turned-informant, who was held captive for almost two years before being strangled and dissolved into acid in 1996.

A 2011 Forbes Magazine article reported Denaro as one of the 10 most wanted criminals in the world.

The company's relations with the Guttadauro's Brancaccio clan also reportedly concern a number of construction companies.

Giuseppe Guttadauro, a 65-year-old surgeon, was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 13 years and four months in jail four years later for Mafia criminal conspiracy.

His brother Filippo, 62, was arrested in 2006 also on Mafia criminal conspiracy charges and sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2008.

Investigators said they have evidence linking Niceta's firm with ''supermarket king'' Giuseppe Grigoli, 63, suspected of being a trusted crony and dummy proprietor for Denaro.

Anti-mafia police in September seized more than 700 million euros' worth of assets from Grigoli, who reportedly had a key role enabling the Niceta family company to open stores in the Belicitta' mall near Trapani considered a business district of Denaro.

Assets seized on Friday include 11 real estate companies and clothing and jewelry stores, offices based in Palermo, 12 buildings, 23 parcels of land, 16 cars, shares in companies and financial assets.

Grigoli, known as the ''supermarket king'' for his leading role in food distribution in Sicily, is serving a 12-year sentence for mafia criminal conspiracy handed down by a middle appeals court.

In the same trial, Denaro, on the run since 1993, was condemned in absentia to 20 years in prison.