The Italian Mafia has hijacked a chunk of Italy’s renewables industry to launder money and to profit from the incentives and subsidies offered by the government, according to an article in Oilprice.com.
Italian police recently seized $1.7 billion in mafia-linked assets from Vito Nicastri, 57. Among the assets were 43 wind and solar energy companies. With so much invested in wind farms, Nicastri has been dubbed “Lord of the Wind.”
While Italy generates more than 5,000 MW of wind energy from nearly 300 wind farms, the question is: how much of this is linked to organized crime? The Mafia often uses legitimate businesses to launder money; and in 2010, Italian authorities found evidence that the Mafia was using renewable energy projects for this purpose.
Another reason the Mafia would become involved with renewable energy is because the government offers lucrative subsidies for the construction of wind farms and doesn’t have strong oversight in place.
The Italian asset seizure is likely to bring more scrutiny to the renewable energy business and its subsidy programs, according to Oilprice.com.
It’s also likely that organized crime may have invested in renewable energy projects in other parts of Europe as well. According to Sarajevo-based ISA Intel, there is also emerging evidence that the Greek underworld is dabbling in renewable energy.