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Italian police seize $1.7b in mafia-owned wind and solar energy assets

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Wind Farm
Wind Farm

Italian authorities have made their largest ever seizure of mafia-linked assets, appropriating properties and bank accounts worth a reported 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) connected to renewable energy farms. According to the AP, local police seized 43 wind and solar energy companies and 66 bank accounts belonging to Vito Nicastri — known as 'Lord of the Wind' for his role in developing his energy businesses.

Nacastri is linked with Matteo Messina Denaro — who is considered the godfather of the Sicilian mafia

Italian police froze Nicastri's assets in 2010, following investigations into whether the mafia were using renewable energy installations to launder money. Nicastri was linked with high profile mafia figures following the arrest of two local mafia bosses, most notably Matteo Messina Denaro — who is considered the godfather of the Sicilian mafia, or Cosa Nostra. Despite their illicit links, Italy's wind farms helped it rank third for wind power in 2009, generating more than 5,000 megawatts across 294 farms. Generous government subsidies and poor regulation in the sector aided the construction of the farms — particularly in the south, where there is a strong mafia presence.

In recent years, the mafia's focus has turned from infiltrating traditional mob industries to Italy's renewable energy installations. An abundance of mafia-controlled land in southern Italy helped aid the creation of new companies where money could be recycled. While the Italian authorities continue their investigation, Nicastri will remain under probation in his home town of Alcamo in western Sicily.