Organized Crime: Mafia Paradise Germany? | tagesschau.de

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Status: 05/05/2023 06:25 a.m

The most recent raids have shown how deeply rooted mafia structures are in Germany. Germany is considered an attractive retreat for the mafia. Why is that?

These are “Pippi-Pippi investigations”. “This is how the Mafiosi make fun of themselves in Italy because they know very well that nothing is happening in Germany,” says journalist Petra Reski. For her books, the author has been dealing with the subject of mafia for years.

In their view, Germany is not taking decisive action against the mafia. But that’s not due to the investigation. “Of course, that’s not the investigators’ fault. There’s still a lack of the right laws,” says Reski. “Because the arrest warrants that were issued during the raids were international arrest warrants that were issued on the basis of Italian law. In Germany, the laws would not have been sufficient for arrest warrants.”

For decades, Germany has been considered a paradise for the Italian mafia: cash-intensive businesses such as restaurants and ice cream parlors are used to launder money from criminal businesses.

In Germany, too, investigators took action today against the Calabrian mafia organization ‘Ndrangheta.
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Germany as a retreat

In addition, Germany is attractive as a safe haven for the mafia. In Germany, there is no political will to enact stricter mafia laws on the subject of money laundering or belonging to the mafia, criticizes Reski. This is not as clearly defined in Germany as it is in Italy. “A German police officer, an investigator, cannot say: Where does the money come from that you are currently investing in your ice cream parlor or pizzeria? There must be a very specific reason for suspicion. In Italy, on the other hand, you have to clearly present where the money comes from and can making it more difficult to invest money.”

Sandro Mattioli shares these observations. He is chairman of the “mafianeindanke” association and campaigns against organized crime and the activities of the mafia.

High cash flow

“Germany’s role as a center of money laundering is also favored by the large amount of cash in circulation, by its size as a financial center – and above all by inadequate laws,” says Sandro Mattioli.

Mafia organizations settled in Germany as early as the 1960s and 1970s: the Cosa Nostra from Sicily, the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria and the Camorra from Naples. In addition to protection money, the clans are deeply rooted in Germany. They own hotels, restaurants, real estate and businesses, Mattioli explains. “What we must not forget is that the mafia is also active in legal areas. Medium-sized companies in Germany are particularly attractive to mafia criminals because the entry threshold is not too high and there is an awareness that there could be mafiosi in Germany , is not pronounced.” There is a politically and economically stable situation in Germany. This means that if criminals invest money here, they don’t have to worry about losing this money.

“On the part of law enforcement, only what is necessary is done here and operations like the Europe-wide raids now only take place every now and then,” says Mattioli. His association “mafianeindanke” calls for continuous action against mafia-type organizations in Germany.

Investigators have taken action against the Calabrian mafia organization ‘Ndrangheta worldwide – including in Germany.
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combating money laundering

Mattioli demands that combating money laundering must finally be treated as a central part of criminal prosecution in Germany. The journalist Reski also criticizes the fact that mafia money is welcomed in Germany. “Money laundering is very convenient for German politicians and is seen as a kind of economic stimulus program. We’re not just talking about ice cream parlors where money is laundered. We’re talking about large investments, about real estate that has been bought, about whole streets that have been bought.”

The mafia is a global organization that acts strategically and is massively active in Germany, even if it is not always visible. The recent raids are a success, says Mattioli. “It’s definitely going to be a positive signal because well-known clans are affected. But you have to put this success into perspective in its effect. In view of the 505 members of the ‘Ndrangheta who, according to the authorities, lived in Germany, a few arrest warrants don’t mean a victory against the Mafia.”

Germany must do more and see these raids as a prelude to fighting the mafia. Cross-border cooperation is a must.



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