Mafia Is Italy's 'No. 1 Bank'

New report says crime pays, and has cleaned up its act
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2012 9:01 AM CST
Mafia Is Italy's 'No. 1 Bank'
'This is extortion with a clean face,' a report from the anti-crime group SOS Impresa says.   (Shutterstock)

How bad is Italy's debt crisis? So bad that the Mafia is now collectively "Italy's No. 1 bank," with roughly $83 billion in liquidity and about $127 billion in annual profits, according to a new report from a prominent Italian business group. Crime organizations such as the Cosa Nostra, Camorra, and 'Ndrangheta have stepped in where banks have failed to lend, the Telegraph explains—but their exorbitant rates often put "customers" out of business.

The report says loan sharking shuttered 1,800 businesses in 2010. Don't picture a bunch of back-alley tough guys, either; today's mob looks eminently respectable, with a fleet of bankers, lawyers, and notaries. "The Classic neighborhood or street loan shark is on the way out, giving way to the organized loan-sharking that is well connected with professional circles," the report says, according to Reuters. "This is extortion with a clean face." (More Mafia stories.)

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