Italian court seizes 'Dolce Vita' cafe from mafia

26th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The cafe, on Rome's posh Via Veneto close to the US embassy, was seized along with nine other eating or drinking establishments and other assets in the Italian capital worth a total of some 200 million euros, he said.

Rome -- Italian authorities seized Rome's Cafe de Paris last week, the symbol of the 1950s lifestyle captured in the film "La Dolce Vita," from a powerful southern crime syndicate, a leading anti-mafia prosecutor said.

"Rome is one of the places where criminal clans and big international traffickers grow by infiltrating the economy by laundering illicit profits," Pietro Grasso told a news conference.

The cafe, on Rome's posh Via Veneto close to the US embassy, was seized along with nine other eating or drinking establishments and other assets in the Italian capital worth a total of some 200 million euros (285 million dollars), he said.

The property belonged to the Alvaro clan of the 'Ndrangheta mafia based in the southern Calabria region, which made the investments using money raised through arms and drugs trafficking, Grasso said.

A feud between clans of the 'Ndrangheta, the most powerful and violent of Italy's crime syndicates, was behind the 2007 shooting of six men in Duisburg, western Germany.

Items seized also included businesses, apartments and luxury cars, Grasso added.

The Cafe de Paris, valued at 55 million euros, was allowed to reopen its doors on Wednesday even while a search continued.

The restaurant was a favourite haunt of cinema stars such as Frank Sinatra and director Federico Fellini as well as Italian intellectuals.

The seizure took place as the governor of the Bank of Italy warned that Italian businesses are less able to resist pressure from the mafia because of the financial crisis.

"Businesses are seeing their cash takings diminishing and the value of their holdings plummeting. It is therefore a lot easier for criminal organisations to target these businesses," Mario Draghi told a parliamentary commission into the prevention of money-laundering.

He said the mafia was putting pressure on businesses, mainly through loans at extortionate rates that allow them to launder cash.

Draghi said criminal organisations were among the obstacles curbing the rate of growth and preventing the economy from bouncing back. The fight against laundering must be "even more determined" during the financial crisis, he said.

AFP/Expatica

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