Italian judiciary could retain Mafia wind farm 'for years'

ITALY: An investigation into mafia involvement in the 96MW Isola Capo Rizzutto wind farm in the southern Italian region of Calabria could be wrapped up in the next four or five months.

In the meantime, the wind farm - one of Italy’s largest - continues to be operated by a court-ordered administrator after being confiscated by judicial authorities last July, an arrangement that could potentially last for years.

Investigators believe the Arena clan, part of the Calabrian 'ndrangheta' criminal association, invested in the wind farm through the use of shell companies and frontmen.

A total of 30 individuals are under investigation. Despite reports to the  contrary, no one has been arrested. In a best-case scenario, Canziani believes a trial on the case could begin in a year although the wait may take years.

Judicial authorities intervened this summer with an emergency order to seize the wind farm, as it was about to be sold to a pool of unknowing investors.

Colonel Fabio Canziani, one of the officials involved with the investigation, said: "The business was a valid one, but it was the people behind it that were the problem."

Mafia concerns

A number of concerns have been raised in recent years about mafia involvement in the Italian wind sector. Previous investigations uncovered criminal or suspected criminal activities in the regions of Sardinia, Sicily, Campania, Apulia and Calabria.

In 2010, Italian environmental association Legambiente issued a report looking at illicit activities in the sector.

It was designed to set the record straight after months of media reports closely associated the country's wind business with criminal activity.

The report said: "Despite the invasive presence in these regions of mafia-type organisations and the obvious interests of those who look for every useful occasion to illegally make a profit, wind is by far the economic sector least conditioned by criminal phenomena and illegal activity in general."