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Italian Businessmen Allegedly Laundered Mafia Money in Romania

Profits from real estate investments in a Romanian city then sent back to Italy to finance mafia activities, reports say. 16 April 2018

A joint Italian-Romanian organized crime investigation led to the arrest last Thursday in Romania of two brothers suspected of laundering millions of euros for the Zagaria crime family, according to a press release from Eurojust, an EU agency in charge of judicial cooperation in criminal matters among EU member states.

 

The suspects, whom Italian daily La Repubblica identified as Nicola and Giuseppe Inquieto, have built “an important real estate empire” in the Romanian city of Pitesti, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Bucharest.

 

Since 2004, when the brothers moved to Romania, they have built in Pitesti a residential neighborhood with more than 400 apartments, a sport and wellness center, and a luxury spa. At the opening of the wellness center, Romanian daily Adevarul writes that Nicola Inquieto shunned questions posed by journalists about the costs of the investment. “I wasn’t the one in charge of keeping the books. Given that this [center] was also a family business, I didn’t keep track of it,” Inquieto said.

 

Adevarul says that the estimated profit that the Inquietos made from selling apartments until 2013 was over 25 million euros ($31 million).

 

The mayor of Pitesti, Cornel Ionica (pictured), was present at the inauguration of the luxury spa earlier this year, Adevarul writes in another article, where he lauded the Italian businessman’s “extraordinary investment.”

 

“What you see here is amazing. I praise all of those who were involved in this investment,” said Ionica.

 

Adevarul notes that Nicola Inquieto received a suspended jail sentence in 2017 of four months for beating up the owner of a store. The National Anti-Corruption Unit also investigated another set of charges, which were later dropped, that the Italian businessman had bribed employees of the Pitesti city hall in order to pay lower taxes to the state for some of his construction works.

 

La Repubblica also writes that Nicola Inquieto used the money of the Casalesi clan, one of the most powerful clans within the Italian organized crime association Camorra, for the initial investments. The profits from the Romanian business ventures were sent back to Italy, where they were used to finance mafia activities, the paper states.

 

 

  • The Eurojust press release referred to “a powerful criminal ‘family’ …whose criminal activities have generated a financial empire over the last 30 years and have adversely affected a large area of southern Italy.”

 

  • “He [Nicola Inquieto] also ensured – via fictitious transactions – the repatriation of laundered funds to Italy to sustain the numerous members of the criminal ‘family’ currently in detention. Funds were provided to the families of those in detention to prevent their cooperation with law enforcement and judicial authorities,” the Eurojust press release says.

 

  • Since February, Slovakia has been in the grip of a political scandal sparked by the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, who was investigating the infiltration into Slovakia of another Italian mafia group, the ‘Ndrangheta, and its links to the local political scene.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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