You Want To Fight Mafia? Follow The Money!

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Follw the trail of the money – and you will find the mafia. (Giovanni Falcone)

The actual situation in fighting the Mafia.

As every year public prosecuters, journalists and familiy members of victims to the Mafia met under this motto in the Faculty of Law of the Palermo University before the anniversary of the assassination of Capaci (Sicily), this year in order to analyse the economic aspect of the problem in front of a public audience. As every year the newspaper Antimafia Duemila and the students association antimafia „Contrariamente“ of Palermo had sent out the invitations.

Here are some excerpts:

The prosecuter Sebastiano Ardita from Messina
regards the actual situation in Italy with some concern. He observes a schizophrenic handling of Falcones’s heritage. On the one hand the 25th anniversary of the assassination is being remembered with great medial pomp, on the other hand the innovative ideas of the antimafia judge are being rejected.

● In 2017 a number of charismatic and experienced Mafia-bosses will be released from prison as the have served their sentences, and this at a moment when the Cosa Nostra is still looking for a boss of the bosses.

● The government intends to substantially reduce the permission for the legal authorities to tap telephones.

● Political forces are trying to reduce or totally abolish article 41 bis (which defines the solitary confinement of Mafia-bosses and terrorists).

● The former president of the Regione Sicilia, Salvatore Cuffaro, now has the permission to officially instruct journalists although he has served a sentence of six years in prison because of „aggravated aiding and abetting the Mafia“.

● The corruption caused by the Mafia today is to be found in every area which can be used as a basis for exerting influence. Not being visible it can be active everywhere in the state and the civil services.

Thus it must be concluded that the Italian State is far behind the possibilities of the Mafia and does not have appropriate instruments to fight the Mafia as it has already been in the times of Falcone.

Gianni Dragoni, jounalist of the economic news paper „Il sole 24 ore“ publishes numbers: According to estimates by the last parliamentary anti-Mafia commission the Italian Mafia has an annual turnover of 160 billion Euro, the annual profit is estimated at 105 billions.

So, if the Italian Mafia with all its business branches was a holding company, it would be the largest Italian economic enterprise by far, and would achieve a turnover 40 billion higher than Exor, the largest Italian group of enterprises including Fiat-Chrysler, Ferrari, CNH (italo-american multinational group), PartnerRe (multinational insurance company) and Juventus Torino. Their total turnover in 2016 was 111 billion Euro.

The value of a company is calculated at the stock exchange on the basis of its profit. If you take the estimated 105 billions profit as a basis, the „mafia spa“ would be worth 1680 billions which is nearly three times as much as all 260 Italian companies listed at the stock exchange togethter.

PS: On 19th May 2017 Apple was valuated at 811 billion Dollar which corresponds to 725 billion Euro. This means „Mafia spa“ could buy Apple and still would be worth 965 billions.

Aaron Pettinari, chief editor of Antimafia Duemila, states that Giovanni Falcone, before he was murdered, was following the trail of the money and was making inquiries about the huge financial movements of the Italien Mafia which first ended up at the small Milano bank Rasini and then apparently disappeared in the nowhere – the „nowhere“ supposedly was to be found in Switzerland. These investigations were one of the reasons why various persons wanted Falcone to be eliminated. But some things have changed since the big Mafia-assassinations 25 years ago, Pettinari supposes and passes the microphone on to Roberto Scarpinato.

Roberto Scarpinato, chief prosecutor of Palermo in charge, is of the opinion that nothing is any more as it used to be in earlier days. He says that we find ourselves in a world in which the capital destroys democracy. „He who has the most money has the say.“

First of all we must avoid a mistake which the public often makes: The mistake to regard the Mafia phenomenons with the eyes of 25 years ago. „The Italy of those days does no longer exist!“ There are new forms of Mafia crimes instead which cannot be coped with applying the anti-Mafia laws of the past. The reason for this are many international changes of historic consequences as e.g. the end of the Soviet Union, the globalization, the introduction of the Euro, the enlargement of the EU in eastern Europe and much more. These changes did not only bring disorder to the old legal societies but also disturbed the balance in the vast illegal society and above all in the universe of the Mafia.

There has been a specialization within the Mafia groups, says Scarpinato. The traditional mafioso who collects protection money and points his gun at the temples of his victims is no longer asked for. Achievement of results by using force is no longer „in“. New forms of the Mafia seem to be more successful. The supreme court speaks of the „silent Mafia“, Scarpinato calls them the „Mafia mercatiste“(roughly: the Mafia of the free market), which means Mafia organisations that flexibly adapt themselves to the changes, which adopt the rules of the so called free market, which have become service agencies, agencies who offer illegal services and illegal goods. For this there is an incredibly large demand by millions of „normal“ people, think of e.g. millions of nouveaux riches in China, in India, in Russia etc.

The selection and specialization within the Mafia groups have reduced the classical Mafia methods of using force to a minimum, and above all in the north a new type of relationship Mafia – population has developed. Scarpinato calls it a „collusive“ (accomplice-) relationship, so that the borderlines between Mafia crimes, white collar crimes, crimes in politics and civil service – which above all consist in systematic corruption – become less and less clear.

Numerous investigations and trials in the recent past have uncovered the existence of so called „criminal systems“ which have neither the typical features of a Mafia organisation nor that of a „simple criminal organisation“. These are criminal systems which exist alongside the legal power systems formed by the „white collar elite“ (e.g. the so called cliques, P2, P3, P4 and so on) and the Mafia aristocracy. There transactions are negotiated to which the normal Mafia troups have no access.

Scarpinato identifies three different types of Mafia:

(The following passages are slightly shortened. We continue with the form of direct speech in order to facilitate the reading.)

1. The traditional Mafia – Die traditionelle Mafia
2. The Mafia groups in the so called „free market“ – Mafien im freien Markt
3. The criminal systems – Die Kriminellen Systeme

Roberto Scarpinato continues:

If we take serious what I have said here it must be clearly understood that, today, the fight against organized crime cannot be left to criminal courts and police forces alone. The fight must be fought world wide, on all levels and on all fronts. The most important and decisive front is the protection and restoration of democracy in politics versus the great economic and financial forces, of which the „Mafia in the free market“ has become an important and solid component.

The fight means to create national and international institutions which enable the nations to again decide on their own fate and to allow politics to again control economy. This means for example on an European level that it is not acceptable that the decision about the development of individual countries can be made by non-representative organs as e.g. the Central Bank of Europe, by the European Commission which is not representative, or by the European Parliament which does not have any importance. Also Europe must become a state under the rule of law, and we must create a European Parlament which gives expression to the will of the nations and which is in the position to control the decisons of the individual countries and which makes the decisions regarding the life of the individual peoples transparent. In Italy as well as in Europe we must create a political democracy which leads to an alternative society based on the concept of „human dignity“. Which therefore is totally different from the one that only is driven by money and which reduces man to an exchangeable mechandise. The big Mafia bosses, the big bosses of the criminal systems and the powerful of the economy dream of this type of society which allows to totally control the lifes of each and everyone of us.

Comments:
1. The criminal organisation of the type Mafia is defined by the law „Art. 416 bis“, the ordinary criminal organisation by the law „Art. 416“.

2. Banca Rasini Milano is a small bank in which the father of Silvio Berlusconi was employed. This small bank is known for its numerous criminal customers among wich there are Mafia bosses as Totò Rina, Pippo Calò, Bernardo Provenzano and Stefano Bontade.

3. In the following I am using the translation „accomplice“ for the Italian expression „collusi“. In Italian, however, it is used exclusively for accomplices of the Mafia in economy, politics and the population.

4. Oligopol: similar to monopoly (in which one person or company dominates the market), in this case the market is dominated by a few.

5. The „CONSIP“ case: Consip is the Italian head office for purchasing for the civil service and operated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The expenditures for the purchases amount to thousands of millions. In 2014 tenders were invited by the state for 2.4 billiards for maintenance and cleaning jobs in the health services. The case is now being investigated by the public prosecutors offices in Naples and Rome because of alleged corruption. So far an entrepreneur from Campania was arrested, investigation are going on against the father of Matteo Renzi, the Minister of Sports, an ex-manager of Consip and many others.

6. Cricche = groups of people in influential positions like e.g. politicians.
P2: a secret lodge under the leadership of Licio Gelli, of which Silvio Berlusconi was a member. It has been dissolved in the meantime, however there are successors.


How is it going with the bribes?
You know, the economic crisis,
now I must even accept watches.
(written on the board: depose here)

 

 

 

 

 


And what do you get in return?
The order for furnishing the hand cuffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

Scarpinato snatches the glasses away from us through which we have been seeing economy so far and quotes a Mafia boss: „Dottore, today’s world is different from the one in old days. In the past politics controlled economy, today it is economy that governs politics. The markets dictate what the governments have to do. And we are the black heart of economy. We are the economy“.

And now I am faced with the uneasy question: Which politicians will save democracy for us. What can I do?

Original published by Eva Klose on the 10th of July, 2017
„Folgt der Spur des Geldes – und Ihr trefft auf die Mafia“

Comment:
A big thank you to Missis Klose who posted this article. It is, however, a pity that hardly anyone is interested in thos contributions and insights. I was in Palermo when the crow of people started to march in direction of Baum-Falcone in Via D’Amelio in memory of Falcone, Borsellino and all the other victims to the Mafia. Somebody held up a poster with the following text: „I am not afraid of the mafiosi, I am afraid of all the honestly indifferent“. I think these words explain the problem in its full extent.
It is true that there are not enough activities by far against the Mafia and the other more or less organized criminality in Italy. But in Germany the Mafia is not even noticed – not to mention fighting it.

 

Accused Of Laundering Using Bitcoin

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The exchange BTC-e is alleged to have facilitated cybercrime, drug trafficking and payments to corrupt officials.

Bitcoin: A Russian man has been arrested in Greece on suspicion of laundering more than £3bn as part of a Bitcoin exchange allowing users to trade the digital cash…
Accused of Laundering 3bn in Bitcoin
Reuters.com

FinCEN fines BTC-e $110 million for violating anti-money laundering laws.
One of the largest digital currency traders in the world has been assessed a $110 million dollar civil money penalty by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California.

BTC-e, or Canton Business Corporation (BTC-e), was the target of the Treasury’s first action against a foreign-located money services business for knowingly violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws, and was hit with a $110,003,314 penalty. The company was also complicit in their facilitation of digital transactions involving “ransomware, computer hacking, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking,” according to an official statement.

BTC-e is an online, foreign-based money transmitter that takes fiat currency and virtually all popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin, Novacoin, Peercoin, Ethereum, and Dash. The company processed over $300,000 in bitcoin stolen from Mt. Gox, one of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges, from 2011 to 2014, and over $296 million in bitcoin in total. The company also facilitated at least $3 million in transactions related to ransomware operations dubbed “Cryptolocker” and “Locky”, in addition to sharing customers and conducting transactions with the since-dead money laundering website Liberty Reserve.

“We will hold accountable foreign-located money transmitters, including virtual currency exchangers, that do business in the United States when they willfully violate U.S. anti-money laundering laws,” said Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director for FinCEN in the statement. “This action should be a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks that they can facilitate ransomware, dark net drug sales, or conduct other illicit activity using encrypted virtual currency.

The facilities of BTC-e were seized by various law enforcement agencies, including the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service. One of BTC-e’s operators, Russian national Alexander Vinnik, was also arrested in Greece this week and assessed a $12 million fine.

BTC-e’s transactions included funds sent and received domestically, despite the company being foreign-based and masking their geographic location and ownership.

The failure to comply with U.S. AML laws and regulations necessitated law enforcement action, and BTC-e’s civil money penalty represents “the second supervisory enforcement action FinCEN has taken against a business that operates as an exchanger of virtual currency, and the first it has taken against a foreign-located MSB doing business in the United States,” according to the statement.

G20

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G20 – a meeting at the highest level

The G20 Summit in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017 will be a meeting at the highest level. Its participants will include the world’s major economic players, the two countries with the largest populations in the world, the world’s biggest island country and the most important international institutions on the planet. But who are these participants of the G20 Summit in Hamburg? Twitter.com/RegSprecher

G20 Womens Entrepreneurship

The G20 also seeks to improve women’s economic empowerment. The G20 thus agreed on the goal of improving labour force participation among women and reducing the gap that still exists in this respect between men and women by 25% by 2025. Germany’s G20 Presidency will build on that and focus on improving the quality of women’s employment. The German G20 Presidency will also work to remove the existing barriers which prevent women from gaining access to information and communications technology in developing countries and to improve education and employment prospects in the field of ICT.

    •  
       

    Financial inclusion
    Promoting female entrepreneurship and access to finance for womenThe G20 has not yet fully acknowledged the potential of entrepreneurship as another driver of growth. Female entrepreneurship as well as women’s access to finance, including full legal capacity for all women, should therefore be promoted by improving access to credit and investor networks, training, information services and technical support.

    Women20 urges the G20 to:

      • Abolish laws and standards that inhibit women’s full legal capacity
      • Ensure women’s access to financial and productive assets as well as to markets
      • Launch specific programmes to support female entrepreneurs, helping them not only to overcome start-up barriers, but also to grow and sustain their businesses, including via trade
      • Increase the share of public procurement sourced to companies that meet specified gender criteria
      • Update the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), with a particular focus on access to finance and bank facilities for women

     

    Suppression of Corruption on G20 Agenda

    With a view to combating international terrorism, the G20 states have decided among other things to dry up channels of terrorist financing by means of closer cooperation and improved exchange of information. Since 2009, the prevention and suppression of corruption has also been on the G20 agenda. The G20 has since been working consistently to expand its existing body of principles. Under the German Presidency, the focus is on measures to improve public sector integrity and the common search for ways to fight corruption in particularly susceptible areas. G20-Anti Corruption

Congo President’s Daughter Charged With Corruption in France

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Investigators have widened a corruption probe into the French assets of three African ruling families, charging the daughter and son-in-law of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, judicial sources told AFP on Sunday. Julienne Sassou Nguesso, 50, and her 53-year-old husband Guy Johnson were placed under investigation this week for “money laundering and misuse of public funds”, the sources said.

Investigators are trying to determine how the couple in 2006 were able to purchase a mansion valued at 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in the swanky Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine just north of the ritzy 16th arrondissement, according to a judicial source.

The tentacles of the case also reach out to ruling families in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Julienne Sassou Nguesso is an insurance agent by profession and her husband is a lawyer…..Congo Presidents Daughter Charged with Corruption

Your Money, Your Goals

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Effective Financial Literacy: What Youths Need to Know, When They Need to Know It. Emily Appel-Newby reports:  Almost 20 percent of all young people around age 15 are not financially literate — they don’t have skills like budgeting income and expenses, pulling a credit report or understanding the terms of a credit card. Young people who live in lower-income homes are even less likely to be financially literate. Research also indicates that the benefits associated with typical financial education classes are often short-lived: Participants gain some immediate short-term knowledge, but their ability to translate that knowledge into practice later is less likely.

The CFPB developed the toolkit in 2014 so that frontline staff who work directly with clients have ready-made, practical tools to help them build financial skills. The toolkit, which is free and available on the CFPB’s website, contains more than 35 tools that can be used with a variety of clients at different stages of life, including those getting their first jobs and transitioning to living independently. Tools are arranged in nine modules:

  • Setting goals and planning for large purchases.
  • Saving for emergencies, bills and goals.
  • Tracking and managing income and benefits.
  • Paying bills and other expenses.
  • Getting through the month (cash flow).
  • Dealing with debt.
  • Understanding credit reports and scores.
  • Money services, cards, accounts and loans.
  • Protecting your money.

Effective Financial Literacy

Wilhelm Busch: Teacher Lämpel (from Max and Moritz)

A Statue Of A Defiant Girl Now Faces The Wall Street Bull

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The Wall Street statue of the Fearless Girl won a permit to spend 11 months in front of the iconic Charging Bull statue. The roughly four-foot statue has become a social media sensation.

State Street Takes On Wall Street’s Gender Gap
Annalyn Kurtz reports: When the Fearless Girl statue appeared in lower Manhattan in March, it was, for a while, almost impossible to escape her. Here was a little girl, about four feet tall, staring down the massive bronze Charging Bull, a testosterone-charged symbol of Wall Street bravado. The imagery was captivating: High finance, Fearless Girl affirmed, was a woman’s world too.

The statue quickly became a sensation. Queues of tourists crowded around her to snap selfies, mimicking her Wonder Woman stance, hands on hips and chin held high. By one estimate, she drew more than 500,000 social media mentions in just one day. She was originally meant to stay at the Bowling Green ­plaza for only a week, but thousands signed a petition to make her a permanent public work of art, and by the end of March, the city of New York had agreed to let her stay for a year.

 But Fearless Girl had a commercial side too. The statue was part of a marketing push by State Street Global ­Advisors (stt), the $2.56 trillion asset-­management arm of financial giant State Street Corp. A plaque at her feet included a plug for SHE, a State Street exchange-traded fund that invests only in companies committed to gender diversity. Her ­arrival also coincided with State Street putting thousands of other companies on notice. The company announced that, as an institutional investor, it would vote against corporate boards that don’t make strides in adding women to their ranks…Fortune.com

Jeremy Nguyen
www.twitter.com/jeremywins

The Malta Files: How The Smallest EU Country Became A Haven For Global Tax Avoidance

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The Mediterranean republic of Malta operates a tax system where companies pay the lowest tax on profits in the EU – only five per cent.

Over the last three months, journalistic network European Investigative Collaborations EIC dug into over 150,000 documents that show how international companies take advantage of this system, using Malta as a pirate base for tax avoidance in the EU.

Although benefiting from the advantages of EU membership, Malta also welcomes large companies and wealthy private clients looking to dodge taxes in their home countries. This has made Malta a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia, Russian loan sharks and the highest echelons of the Turkish elite.

This damages the budgets of other EU countries, and reveals a weakness in the union, which allows member states sovereign rights over their taxation. The research was undertaken by the EIC, which has brought together 12 media and over 40 journalists in 16 countries.

This is how the scheme works:
A company in Geneva, London or Paris can open a parent firm in Malta, where it is taxed at 35 per cent, the highest income tax band.

However if the shareholders of the company are not based in Malta, and the bulk of the firm’s business does not take place in Malta, the Maltese Inland Revenue can refund up to 6/7 of this amount to the company.

De facto, this makes corporate tax in Malta only five per cent.
This compares to an EU average of around 22 per cent. In 2015, this scheme saw a shortfall of almost four billion Euro in taxes, according to a study by newspaper Malta Today. This figure has been steadily rising year on year. This is money “lost” to both the Maltese exchequer and to the tax base of European countries where the companies are headquartered.

Even if this situation appears legal, it seems Malta has not met all the requirements to control possible fraud cases associated with the fiscal status of the islands state. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and holds the EU Presidency between January and June 2017 – during a climate where the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering is top of the EU agenda.

Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says that due to Malta’s location and lack of natural resources, the country must be attractive for international companies.

Malta itself is the smallest country in the EU, with only 450,000 people. Its leaders have complained that controlling tax policy is the only tool left for small EU countries to remain competitive.

Using leaked documents and the Maltese company registry, The Black Sea reveals how companies have planned and operated these schemes to deprive countries across the world of valuable revenues…The Blacksea.EU/Malta-Files

Mark Scicluna
www.markscicluna.com

Women Investors Outperformed Men In 2016

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Who’s the better investor – women or men?

Lisa Scherzer reports:  According to a new report published Wednesday by Fidelity Investments, on average women investors performed better than men by 40 basis points, or 0.4%, last year. (It sounds like a pittance, but over time, it can add up; as the graphic below shows.) The Fidelity survey compared investing behavior of 8 million retail customers from January to December 2016.

The perhaps not-so-surprising part of Fidelity’s findings is that when asked who they believed made the better investor this past year, just 9% of women thought they would outperform men.

Analyzing gender differences in investing is practically its own field of finance at this point. As each new study attempts to shed light on which characteristics of each gender might lead to better investment outcomes, a few common themes have emerged – and most are reflected in Fidelity’s report.

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it. Confidence gap

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

The Dubious Friends Of Donald Trump Part Two: King Of Diamonds

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

In the second part of our programme about Donald Trump’s controversial friends, we will set our sights on the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is controversial because he is suspected of trading in blood diamonds. He is one of the world’s biggest diamond traders and owns prestigious stores in New York and Moscow, but he is also the owner of Siebel, the Netherlands’ biggest jewellery chain. Leviev has ties with Russian president Putin, US president Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump, however, claims he hardly knows this “King of Diamonds” . Zembla investigates Lev Leviev’s business empire.  The dubious friends of Donald Trump part two: King of Diamonds

Watch the first part of the dubious friends of Donald Trump: ‘the Russians’ here.

Blood Diamond/  Cartoon Movement

 

 

The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians

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Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others…The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians
The Curious World / James S. Henry
Donald Trumps Private Russian Connections

Trump’s Organized Crime Ties Bring Blackmail to the White House
Trump business partner accused of involvement in Dutch-based money laundering scheme
What American Television Should Tell You About Donald Trump’s ties to Russia