Italy Confiscates $40 Million in Assets Linked to Corleone Mafia
Sicilian police seized gas industry companies, real estate, cars and cash in Italy, Spain and Andorra as part of a crackdown on money laundering operations by the infamous Corleonesi mafia clan, Palermo prosecutors said Friday.
The industrial network targeted by the seizures dates back to the 1980’s, when Ezio Ruggero Maria Brancato — a former Sicily government official who died in 2000 — created the foundations for Sicily’s gas industry.
Brancato and his heirs worked together with two well-known Cosa Nostra figures from Corleone, Vito Ciancimino and Bernardo “The Tractor” Provenzano, to create a gas industry network, according to a Tax Police press release.
The Sicilian entrepreneur was a shareholder in six companies belonging to the Palermo-based Gas Group, which investigators say was under control of the Corleone mafia clan. Ciancimino and Provenzano had invested substantial sums into the business.
Ciancimino worked as a liaison between the Gas Group and the mafia clan headed by Riina Salvatore and Provenzano.
“The 'Gas Group,' through sub-contracts awarded to companies close to organized crime, would interact with Cosa Nostra in a 'mutual benefit' relationship, acting as mafia conspirators," police said in a statement.
Brancato’s widow Maria D’Anna and their daughters Monia and Antonella sold their shares in the Gas Group for 46 million euros to Spanish multinational Gas Natural in 2004. The company as a whole was valued at 115 million euros at the time.
With the proceeds of the sale, the Brancato family bought expensive property — including famous historic sites across Palermo, Sardinia and Spain.
In cooperation with Spanish and Andorra police, authorities seized six companies, 59 properties, four cars, a motorcycle as well as bank accounts and security boxes with jewels and thousands in cash registered to third parties and companies.