BND says Italian mafia taking root in Germany-paper

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BERLIN, Nov 12 (Reuters) Italian organised crime is gaining a strong foothold in Germany and has invested proceeds of its illegal activities in energy companies listed in Frankfurt and Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, a newspaper reported. Citing a secret study by Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND), the Berliner Zeitung said yesterday the Calabrian mafia, known as the 'Ndrangheta, was using Germany to invest cash from drugs and weapons smuggling.

The group had invested double-digit millions of its profits in German hotels, restaurants and real estate, especially in former communist eastern Germany and along the Baltic coast, the paper quoted the study as saying.

A BND spokesman said yesterday the agency would probably not be able to comment on the newspaper report until tomorrow.

According to the BND study, two 'Ndrangheta clans were especially entrenched in Germany and were smuggling weapons from Switzerland and Germany in close cooperation with Albanian mafia groups, the paper said.

As part of its money laundering activities, the 'Ndrangheta had also bought up large packages of shares in companies listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, particularly energy firms, the BND study said.

Some clans had also invested in shares in Gazprom, in which German gas market leader E.ON-Ruhrgas has a 6.4 per cent stake.

E.ON-Ruhrgas could not be reached for comment.

The BND study levelled sharp criticism at the Italian authorities, saying their efforts to tackle organised crime were inadequate, the Berliner Zeitung said.

On the one hand, laws introduced by the government of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusoni had made fighting organised crime harder and on the other the 'Ndrangheta had succeeded in infiltrating political and judicial bodies, the study said.

Reuters SP RN0956

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