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Lombardy 'Ndrangheta members arrested

Money-laundering 'bank' set up near Monza

04 March, 10:30
Lombardy 'Ndrangheta members arrested (ANSA) - Milan, March 4 - Italian on Tuesday issued 30 arrest warrants in a probe into suspected activities of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia in the wealthy northern Italian region of Lombardy and other regions.

The suspected mobsters are accused of extortion, corruption, money laundering and other crimes, mostly in the region around Italy's business capital Milan.

Police said the organisation set up a sort of 'bank' at Seveso near Monza, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) north-northeast of Milan, to launder money with the alleged help of corrupt local businessmen and bank and post office staff.

The money then went through Switzerland and San Marino, police said, before being reinvested in legitimate construction, public works, transport, boat-building, renewable energy and restaurants. The organisation, based in the affluent Brianza area north of Milan, rigged public tenders in its favour, police said. The suspected members may face charges of mafia association, money laundering, loan-sharking, extortion, corruption, extortion, illegal credit operations and false claims of ownership over properties and companies, police said.

Police said they also quelled disputes within their own 'Ndrangheta cell, called a 'drine', as well as with "other criminal organisations".

Assets worth tens of millions of euros in property and companies were seized. 'Ndrangheta is Italy's richest mafia thanks to its domination of the European cocaine trade.

It has invested its drug profits in the legitimate economy of central and northern Italy.

Premier Matteo Renzi has said fighting Italy's mafias - the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, the Camorra in Naples and Cosa Nostra in Sicily - will be one of his new government's top priorities.