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The UK’s capital has been dubbed as a potential hotbed for organised crime, especially after Brexit.
Italy’s largest mafia trial is being held with more than 900 witnesses willing to testify against more than 350 defendants including some political figures and officials charged with being a part of Italy’s most powerful criminal group. The defendants are being charged with money laundering done by setting up companies in the UK with the purpose of copying lawful economic activities.
“’ Ndrangheta interests in the UK have figured prominently as clans have used the country as an investment and money-laundering base,” the prosecutor whose investigation led to the trial, Nicola Gratteri, said.
The ’Ndrangheta is one of the richest criminal organisation in the world with an annual turnover of more than £44bn. According to the investigators, the group has eyed London as its ticket to legalizing its funds. The investigators also reported that the billions of euros have been laundered through London by ’Ndrangheta.
The crime group has no plans to have a controlling stake in the city, it only plans to exploit the country’s financial system. Colonel Claudio Petrozziello of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, which tracks illegal flows of capital, said, “It’s not that there are no rules in London,” he added, “The problem is that the risk of mafia infiltration is underestimated.”
Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italy’s anti-mafia prosecutor has already warned that Brexit may lead to the organised crime in the UK. The investigators are also concerned that the UK leaving the European Union will result in less effective police and judicial cooperation between the UK and EU.
“When the UK was part of the European Union, it benefited from the effective sharing of data in the fight against organised crime,” he told. “Now that it has left the EU, problems will start to emerge. London will not be absent, but things will change and even the best post-Brexit cooperation will be less effective than within the EU. Today’s mafias are moving among countries and continents, and where they find a weakness in international cooperation, they exploit that opportunity.”