They say crime doesn’t pay – but researchers have found evidence to the contrary: apparently, Italy’s four biggest crime families have broken out of their traditional territory of southern Italy and found new and willing markets for their loanshark operations. According to research by Italian employers’ association Confosercenti, ‘Mafia Inc’ is now Italy’s biggest bank, with cash reserves of €65bn (£53.6bn) and estimated annual profits of €100bn. Wowza.
Apparently, the gangster boom has been caused by the economic crisis: as banks become less and less willing to lend, Mafia dons have stepped in – which Confosercenti reckons pushed 1,800 small companies out of business in 2010 alone.
Gambling is also a lucrative market for the cosa nostra: the group reckons the average Italian adult spends nearly €1,300 a year on gambling, making it the country’s third-biggest industry. Scary stuff.