Mafia deters foreigners from investing in Italy

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Bank of Italy chief Ignazio Visco said mafia infiltration in Italy’s institutions is deterring foreign investors. Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP
12:46 CET+01:00
Mafia infiltration in Italy’s institutions is deterring foreign investors and cost the country €16 billion in potential investment between 2006 and 2012, the head of Italy’s central bank has said.

Speaking during at an anti-mafia parliamentary committee hearing in Rome on Wednesday, Ignazio Visco said that crime had a “negative affect on investments in general”, especially those coming from abroad, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

Citing a report from the Bank of Italy in 2014, Visco added that if national institutions had been as crime-free as their counterparts across the eurozone then foreign investment in Italy between 2006 and 2012 would have been 15 percent higher.

Meanwhile, employers organization Confindustria said in December that Italy would be €300 billion better off if it had acted decisively against corruption in the wake of the "tangentopoli" scandal of the early 1990s.

The organization said the failure to implement effective measures to stamp out endemic bribery and kickbacks in public and business life has acted as a costly restraint on growth without which the economy could be nearly a fifth bigger than it now is.

In a report titled "Corruption: Deadweight on Development," Confindustria's in-house think-tank CSC attempted to quantify the impact of the ultimately ineffective response to the vast system of corruption that was uncovered in 1992 and known as tangentopoli. The "clean hands" investigation into tangentopoli led at one point to the indictment of half the country's lawmakers.

Although the probe led to many arrests, convictions and several suicides among prominent business and political figures, Italy remains way behind similar countries in terms of its success in controlling corruption, according to every international survey on the subject.

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Italy is also mired in its longest-ever recession, with the unemployment rate hitting an all-time high of 13.4 percent in November.

Visco called on the government to rapidly adopt a new anti-money laundering law as well as create conditions that will prompt a return to growth. 

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