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Italy: Central bank chief warns that the mafia is hurting economy

last update: March 11, 18:12

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Milan 11, March (AKI) - The mafia is one of the biggest reasons for the sluggish growth of the European Union's fourth largest economy, Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi said on Friday.

"Among the most inhibitory factors...is mafia infiltration in the structure of productivity, which has increased during the last ten years, at least in how it has spread throughout our national territory," Draghi said during a speech in the northern city of Milan, the centre of Italian business.

Draghi's comments followed an annual report by Italy's national anti-mafia directorate (DNA) this week which said the Calabrian mafia or 'Ndrangheta was continuing to grow in Italy and abroad thanks to "unlimited" financial resources.

Lombardy, the affluent region around Milan was the victim to a "full-fledged colonisation", the DNA said in its Wednesday report.

The Italian economy grew just 1.3 percent last year from 2009 when it shrank 5.1 percent amid the worst recession in more than six decades. Italy’s gross domestic product grew at an average rate of 1.5 percent a year from 1999 to 2007, compared with 2.2 percent for the European Union.

Italian organised crime groups' revenue in 2009 totalled 135 billion euros, according to according to the Rome-based anti-mafia organisation SOS Impresa.

The three biggest Italian crime networks, the Sicilian mafia or Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra, have their roots in the country's south. But authorities say they have invested money from from traditional crimes like extortion and drug trafficking in seemingly legitimate enterprises.

In July thousands of police conducted raids through Milan's Lombardy region where Milan is located, and the Calabria region in the south to arrest around 300 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta.

The 'Ndrangheta is considered Italy's most powerful crime syndicate, whose financial clout has been estimated at more than 3 percent of Italy's gross domestic product (GDP).

The same month interior minister Roberto Maroni announced the arrest of more than a dozen alleged ''Ndrangheta mobsters for infiltrating Milan's Expo 2015. Milan mayor Letizia Moratti says the event will draw 29 million visitors, create 70,000 jobs and generate almost 4 billion euros billions in revenue.

"The price that society pays is high when it is contaminated by organised crime," he said. Fighting the mafia "serves to strengthen the social fibre of the country and to remove one of the brakes that has been slowing our country's path forward."

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